Reno, Las Vegas Dioceses in 'Full Compliance'

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Roman Catholic dioceses in Reno and Las Vegas said Monday that they're in full compliance with recommendations issued by American bishops in efforts to deal with a nationwide sex-abuse scandal involving clergy members.

Bishop Phillip Straling in Reno and the Very Rev. Bob Stoeckig, representing Bishop Joseph Pepe in Las Vegas, said the two dioceses that cover the state were advised they met terms of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.

The charter was adopted by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in June 2002 to prevent sexual abuse by clergy or church employees and to ensure that cases of abuse are dealt with promptly and openly.

The conference was scheduled to release full results of a compliance audit of all 195 American dioceses on Tuesday. The audit only evaluated actions taken since the U.S. bishops adopted the sex-abuse charter.

Some directives in the charter had been recommended earlier, and some dioceses - Reno among them - had established policies prohibiting sexual misconduct.

The Reno and Las Vegas dioceses also provided training to clergy and church employees and provided information on ways for victims to report misconduct to church and civil authorities and obtain counseling.

Besides the compliance finding, the Las Vegas diocese received a commendation for its aggressive efforts since the sex-abuse problems became public.

The Rev. Mark Roberts pleaded guilty a year ago to abusing five teenage boys at St. Peter the Apostle Catholic Church in Henderson. He was sentenced to three years' probation. A separate civil suit that includes other alleged victims is pending.

Also, the late Monsignor Robert Bowling, pastor of St. Therese the Little Flower Church in Reno for almost three decades, was accused of sexual misconduct in 11 lawsuits filed against the Diocese of Louisville, where he had worked previously.

Nine women in Kentucky accused Bowling of fondling or molesting them when they were children. Two Reno women also filed claims, saying he fondled them or behaved sexually inappropriately toward them as adults.

Last June, the Louisville diocese apologized to victims as it settled these and more than 200 other cases and agreed to pay victims $25.7 million. Despite the settlement, Bowling maintained his innocence. He died of cancer three days after the settlement was announced.

Also, a Reno priest has been named in a civil lawsuit that alleges inappropriate behavior with a girl 31 years ago in San Diego. The Rev. Robert Buchanan, recently retired as presiding priest at Our Lady of Snows Church in Reno, has denied the allegations.

Buchanan is with the diocese of San Bernardino but has been a resident priest in Reno.


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