At least five Roanoke-area priests accused of sexually abusing a minor, according to report

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ROANOKE, Va (WDBJ7) Dozens of priests accused of sexually abusing children were revealed by the Diocese of Richmond Wednesday. The list includes 42 priests across central and southwestern Virginia, and at least five who served in the Roanoke area.

Dennis Paul Murphy, Steven R. Rule, Dwight Edward Shrader, James Lee Rizer and Eugene John Teslovic served in either Roanoke, Bedford, or Lynchburg.

The list does not say how many accusers the men faced. All five have either been convicted, removed from the priesthood or died.

In a statement released alongside the list, Bishop of Richmond Barry C. Knestout said, "To those who experienced abuse from clergy, I am truly, deeply sorry."

Victims and victim advocates say this is a step in the right direction.
"For many victims, they've never gone public," said Becky Ianni, who was abused by a priest on the list, and now works with the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. "But when the list comes out, and they see someone else has accused this perpetrator, that sense of isolation decreases, and maybe they can begin to heal."

However, Ianni cautions this list falls short in a number of ways. "It doesn't say the parishes the priests were at, it doesn't say when they were accused, how many people accused them. We don't know if there was one victim or a dozen victims of each of these perpetrators," she said. Ianni also said that the list is likely incomplete, based off similar abuse scandals that have broken in Boston, MA, Buffalo, NY, and Pennsylvania.

According to Ianni, the most important step the church can take now is to put protections in place to finally protect children. "We want what happened to us to never happen to another child," she said.

In his statement, Bishop Knestout, agreed. "We must continue to demonstrate our commitment to never let this happen again," he said.