PA Grand Jury Report on Catholic Sex Abuse Released
1000 Victims and more than 300 Perpetrators Identified
On August 14, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro released a report detailing the results of a two-year grand jury investigation into widespread sexual abuse of children within six dioceses of the Catholic Church in Pennsylvania. The report also describes the systemic cover up of the abuse by senior church officials in Pennsylvania and at the Vatican.
The investigation identified 1,000 children who were victims, but reported that there probably are thousands more. More than 300 catholic priests are implicated as are bishops who knew of the abuse and covered it up.
A number of the priests had assignments during their careers in Monroe County churches. The victim list is so long because of the historic practice of frequently moving these priests between different parishes.
AG Shapiro reports that his office will pursue any information or leads concerning child sexual abuse within these Dioceses, wherever it comes from.
The Attorney General’s clergy abuse hotline is: 888-538-8541.
In addition to criminal prosecution, the priests and church face potential civil liability.
Extended Statute of Limitations for Child Victims
AG Shapiro’s report notes that the statute of limitations for such claims was recently extended so that abusers can potentially be prosecuted until the child victim reaches age 50. As he notes, “If child abusers knew they could become immune for their crimes by outrunning the statute of limitations, maybe there would be less child abuse.”
Although some of the perpetrators have died long ago, the Church continues to face substantial civil exposure. This is not just against the priests who were abusing children but against the bishops and monsignors whose actions helped facilitate the crimes.
Shapiro was also critical of confidentiality agreements that allow abusers to purchase silence so that other targets will never learn of the danger and the abuser is free to target new victims. Although confidentiality agreements also guard the privacy of victims, there should be a statutory exception that allows a victim to report the crime to the police for criminal prosecution.
The report can be downloaded from the Attorney General’s office using this link.
Additional resources from the Attorney General’s office are available on their webpage.
~~Attorney Jerry Geiger