YAKIMA — The Yakima Diocese has released a list of priests and deacons accused of sexually abusing minors.

The list does not mean that abuse occurred at any of the places where the priests worked, according to the Yakima Diocese’s website. It only alerts the public that these men have faced accusations and have also worked for the diocese at some point in time.

The diocese released the names to be transparent and to encourage people who have been sexually abused to come forward, according to the website. 

People can view the list at the diocese’s website at https://wwrld.us/32j4CH2.

Anyone with information about sexual abuse by members of the clergy or anyone else working on behalf of the Roman Catholic Church can contact the Yakima Diocese at 1-888-276-4490 or local law enforcement, according to the website.

The list includes five priests and a deacon who served in the Wenatchee Valley and two priests in Grant County, according to the list.

The Yakima Diocese has faced accusations of sexual abuse by priests throughout the years, including locally. The incidents stretch from the early 1960s to recent years.

According to previous Wenatchee World reporting:

In 2017, a priest who once served in East Wenatchee, Gustavo Gomez Santos, was removed from the clergy. The abuse took place in 2011 and 2012 and the allegations were brought forward by a Mattawa resident.

Gomez is currently undergoing an administrative penal process within the church and has been permanently removed from priestly duties, according to the diocese list. 

In 2011, the diocese faced four lawsuits involving clergy, including a deacon, Aaron Ramirez, who served in Wenatchee. Ramirez was accused of abusing a 17-year-old in 1999. In 2014 a judge found that the diocese was not responsible for the abuse.

Ramirez was removed by the church from the clergy, according to the list. 

A former Waterville priest, Joseph Graaf, was also accused of abusing minors between 1972 and 1974 in one of those four lawsuits. The lawsuit was dismissed due to a lack of evidence. Graaf has since died, according to the list. 

Anthony King, a Wenatchee and Quincy priest, and Richard O'Connor, a Wenatchee priest, were both accused of sexual assault in the 1960s. The diocese settled lawsuits against both King and O'Connor, according to the list. Both men are dead. 

The Wenatchee World has no previous reporting on Brian T. Gallagher, a priest in Quincy; James Kovalik, a priest in Quincy; and John Tholen, a priest in Wenatchee. 

Gallagher received treatment and returned to the ministry, according to the list. He retired in 1991 and is now dead. 

Kovalik declined treatment, left the ministry and is now dead, according to the list. 

The diocese settled a lawsuit in regards to Tholen. He retired in 1997 and is now dead, according to the list. 

Tony Buhr: 664-7123

buhr@wenatcheeworld.com or

on Twitter @TonyBuhr

Environment, county and health reporter

Tony Buhr has been a professional reporter for almost seven years. He worked for the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin as a cops and courts reporter. The Ellensburg Daily Records as a cops and courts, breaking news, agriculture and water reporter.