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Priests and Members of Diocese of Fairbanks Named As ‘Perpetrators of Sexual Abuse’

Wooden cross in foreground, large body of water and sub-Arctic mountain range in background

Almost 30 priests have been named by the Diocese of Fairbanks as “credibly accused perpetrators of sexual abuse.” A list of their names was released earlier this month in conjunction with an announcement from the Jesuits West Province.

Reverend Jules Convert, Rev. James Jacobson, and Rev. James Poole* were some of the priests named. Out of the 28 perpetrators of sexual abuse on the list, only one is currently incarcerated; the rest have died or retired, according to the Diocese.

The alleged sexual abuse is said to have occurred when these priests were assigned to at least 13 different communities in Western Alaska between the 1950s and 1980s, in places including: Nome, Unalakleet, Kotzebue, Holy Cross, St. Mary’s, Galena, Hooper Bay, St. Michael, Kaltag, Mountain Village, Alakanuk, Tununak, Emmonak, and others.

In a statement from November, Bishop Chad Zielinski of the Diocese of Fairbanks said during his travels he has:

“…publicly apologized for the grave abuses of Church personnel that have left horrible wounds in people’s souls. I also have apologized for ethnic abuse directed at our Native Alaskan brothers and sisters from priests and religious in the past.”

KNOM Radio will report further details regarding the list of priests and their sexual abuse related to the Diocese of Fairbanks following a formal interview with Bishop Zielinski.

According to Bishop Zielinski, work towards healing has included faith leaders in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta region recently starting an Intercultural Dialogue group. The Diocese of Fairbanks says it’s committed to supporting local initiatives that facilitate healing, like those led by native people in the YK-Delta.

Bishop Zielinski says three parishes have already participated in Pathway to Hope, a community-based program that uses an indigenous framework for healing from sexual abuse. If you want to report sexual abuse or need support, contact the Victim Assistance Coordinator or call (907) 374-9500.

Image above: Cross near Teller, Alaska, autumn 2006. Photo: David Dodman, KNOM.

*Editor’s Note: Father James Poole was among those who founded KNOM Radio in 1971. KNOM management and staff utterly renounce Fr. Poole’s abuse, some of which occurred within KNOM station walls, decades ago. The staff and management of KNOM Radio were not aware of Fr. Poole’s abuse until allegations were made public in the early 2000s. A more detailed statement on Father Poole’s history at KNOM, and on recent news stories that have revisited this subject, is forthcoming soon from has also been released by the KNOM Radio Mission Board of Directors. Stay tuned to KNOM for further stories regarding the recent release of the names of priests accused of abuse. We are actively pursuing this story.

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Based in the Bering Strait region, KNOM broadcasts throughout the homelands of the Iñupiaq, Siberian Yup’ik, Cup’ik and Yup’ik peoples.