‘Credible allegations’ of sex abuse name 2 former Catholic priests who served in Utah

(Rick Egan | Tribune file photo) In this February 2018 file photo, the choir sings the Processional Hymn during the Ash Wednesday Mass at the Cathedral of the Madeleine, the mother church for Utah Catholics.

Utah’s Catholic diocese has received “credible allegations" of sexual abuse of minors or vulnerable adults against two former Jesuit priests who once served in the Beehive State.

Their names were on a list released by the Jesuits West Province and on a similar anticipated list by the Jesuits Midwest Province.

Both alleged incidents occurred in the 1980s, according to a release from Jean Hill, spokeswoman for the Diocese of Salt Lake City, and both priests are long gone from Utah.

Actions by the Rev. Raymond Devlin, who appears on the Jesuit West list, were reported in 1990, the release said, and he was removed from his priesthood ministry at that time. Devlin died in 2011.

Allegations against the Rev. Edward J. Konat, from the Midwest Province, were reported in 2002, and he also was removed from the priesthood. Konat left Utah in 1985 and was expelled by the Jesuits, the diocese said. “Both incidents were reported to the Division of Child and Family Services in 2002.”

In the past three decades, the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City reported, it has received “credible allegations” of sexual abuse involving 16 priests, including Devlin and Konat.

Two of those allegations were received just this year — with one case revealed publicly in September in a letter to Catholics from Bishop Oscar A. Solis.

The letter, called “Report to the People of God of the Diocese of Salt Lake City,” was the first time Utah Catholics received this type of accounting of sex abuse allegations against priests, spokeswoman Hill said at the time.

The two recent claims were against the Rev. Jorge Martinez-Gomez, who was put on leave in early July after an “allegation of misconduct” involving a man, and the Rev. David R. Gaeta, serving in American Fork. who was placed on leave while the state, police and the diocese investigate allegations of sexual misconduct involving at least two minors.

In total, the Salt Lake City diocese (which oversees all parishes serving the state’s 300,000-plus Catholics) reported there have been approximately 34 alleged victims of abuse from these allegations. The instances took place from 1960 to 2018.

As the country has been roiled by reports of sex abuse by priests, several attorneys general in various states have launched investigations into Catholic dioceses across the country.

For now, Utah’s is not among them.

“We not investigating the diocese,” said Attorney General Sean Reyes’ spokeswoman Cindy Reinhard on Friday.

There are two criminal cases pending, one in Weber County and one in Utah County, Reinhard said. “We always let local law enforcement investigate these claims.”

Reyes’ office would initiate an investigation of its own, she said, if it received any complaints — but it hasn’t.

During the past thirty years, the Salt Lake City diocese has developed and implemented a safe environment program, Hill said, including clear “standards of conduct for its priests and deacons as well as diocesan employees, volunteers, and any other church personnel in positions of trust who have regular contact with children and young people …[and] written policies and procedures regarding reporting and handling of sexual misconduct claims.”

Solis and Utah’s diocese are “committed to protecting children,” Hill said in the release. “Sexual misconduct by church personnel is an affront to human dignity and the mission of the church. The spiritual well-being of all victims, their families, and others in the community is of particular concern to the church.”