Here’s the Alarming Pa. Catholic Church Child Sex Abuse Report
The partially redacted report identifies 301 Catholic clergy members as “predator priests” who, a grand jury says, sexually abused more than 1,000 children while serving in active ministry.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Tuesday released a highly anticipated grand jury investigation into child sexual abuse by Catholic priests in six state dioceses.
The 884-page document, which has been partially redacted, is being called the most comprehensive report on clergy sex abusers by a U.S. state. It comes after a statewide grand jury spent two years investigating abuse of children by priests, as well as what it terms a systematic cover-up by senior church leaders in Pennsylvania — and the Vatican.
Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro detailed the findings — as well as the grand jury’s recommendations to reform the criminal and civil statutes of limitations on sexual abuse in Pennsylvania — at a press conference on Tuesday afternoon.
“Pennsylvanians can finally learn the extent of sexual abuse in these dioceses,” Shapiro said. “For the first time, we can all begin to understand the systematic cover-up by church leaders that followed. The abuse scarred every diocese. The cover up was sophisticated. The church protected the institution at all costs.”
The investigation comes after previous reports of abuse in the Altoona-Johnstone and Philadelphia archdioceses and provides new insight into the six other dioceses: Allentown, Erie, Harrisburg, Greensburg, Pittsburgh and Scranton.
Per the Attorney General’s Office, the grand jury’s major findings include:
- 301 Catholic priests identified as “predator priests” who sexually abused children while serving in active ministry in the church.
- Detailed accounts of over 1,000 children victimized sexually by “predator priests”, with the grand jury noting it believed the real number of victims was in the “thousands.”
- Senior church officials, including bishops, monsignors and others, knew about the abuse committed by priests, but routinely covered it up to avoid scandal, criminal charges against priests, and monetary damages to the dioceses.
- Priests committed acts of sexual abuse upon children, and were routinely shuttled to other parishes — while parishioners were left unaware of sexual predators in their midst.
Plus, in light of the report, which you can read below, the grand jury has recommended the following changes to Pennsylvania law:
- Eliminating the criminal statute of limitations for sexually abusing children. (Current law permits victims to come forward until age 50.)
- Creating a “civil window” so older victims may now sue for damages. (Current law gives child sex abuse victims 12 years to sue, once they turn 18. Victims in their 30s and older fall under a different law; they are only permitted two years.) The grand jury recommends a limited “window” offering victims a chance to be heard in court for an additional two years.
- Changing the abuse reporting law to clarify the duty to report abuse, requiring people to report abuse “while the person knows or has reasonable cause to believe the abuser is likely to commit additional acts of child abuse.”
- Creating a new statue which states that no past or present nondisclosure agreement can prevent a victim from talking to police. (The grand jury accused the Church of using confidentially agreements to silence abuse victims from speaking publicly or to law enforcement.)
You can also watch Shapiro’s video below.