Msgr. Murrough Wallace to temporarily stand aside

SACRAMENTO – The Diocese of Sacramento released a statement following a news conference this morning by Attorney Joe George concerning two priests of the Sacramento diocese and the upcoming publication by the diocese of a list of credibly accused priests who have served in Sacramento diocese. The following statement is from Fr. Michael Vaughan, vicar general of the Diocese of Sacramento:

“Our diocese is conducting a comprehensive audit of all previous cases involving accusations of child sexual abuse by priests. We are working with independent consultant Kathleen McChesney, a former deputy assistant director of the FBI, and we expect her review to be completed and the list released in March.

“We recognize that in past decades, horrific abuse of children and young people occurred in our diocese. In some cases, our response to this evil and our care for victims were not what they should have been. We are committed to confronting this past and atoning for it, and we are committed to protecting children and the vulnerable from abuse.

“Today, we adhere to a zero-tolerance policy regarding cases of child sexual abuse and immediately report any incidents involving children to law enforcement. Any priest credibly accused of abusing a minor is immediately removed from ministry while the accusation is investigated.

“The information presented at a press conference today had not previously been shared with our diocese. We have reached out to Mr. Doe through his attorney in hopes of learning any information that would allow us to investigate and take appropriate action. We also have offered to provide whatever assistance Mr. Doe may find helpful.

“In light of the allegation raised today by Mr. Doe, Bishop Soto has directed Msgr. Murrough Wallace, retired pastor of St. Theresa Parish in South Lake Tahoe, to withdraw from ministry until more facts can be gathered.

“We are prepared to re-open or re-evaluate all cases when new information comes to light. We would do this using today’s standards, not the ones in place when the abuse occurred. And, we would do this guided by our belief that the safety of the young and vulnerable is our undisputed priority, and that no instance of sexual abuse can be tolerated.”