Report IDs over 1,000 victims of priest abuse

Lester Mason
August 15, 2018

Now we know the truth: "it happened everywhere".

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro said in a press conference yesterday the abuse "touched every diocese and it is horrifying" and "the cover-up was sophisticated" with the shocking details hidden away in a "secret archive".

Charges were filed against former Erie Catholic Diocese priest David Poulson in May for the sexual abuse of two young boys.

The long-anticipated grand jury report on Catholic clergy sex abuse was released Tuesday, yet much still remains hidden.

Erie Catholic Diocese Bishop Emeritus Donald Trautman withdrew his appeal to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to block the grand jury report on clergy sexual abuse in early August.

The investigation, the broadest inquiry into church sex abuse in US history, identified 1,000 children who were victims, but reported that there probably are thousands more.

In addition to providing hundreds of pages detailing abuse by priests and how the church covered up such cases, the grand jury issued recommendations for how laws should now change.

According to the grand jury, the cover-up strategies used across the dioceses were so common that the Federal Bureau of Investigation agreed to assign members of its National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime to review a significant amount of the evidence in this case.

In addition to allegations of abuse - many of which were already public - the report accuses high-ranking church officials of covering up the abuse.

Among other things, the "predator priests" were to continue receiving housing and living expenses, and they could be transferred to another church. Some were teens; many were prepubescent.

A majority of the events within the redacted report are from the early 2000's, according to the grand jury.

The report covers six of the eight Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania: Allentown, Erie, Greensburg, Pittsburgh, Scranton and Harrisburg, which together minister to more than 1.7 million Catholics. James Porter, a MA priest who went to jail for molesting dozens of children, was ordered to seek retreat at St. Joseph's Abbey in 1967, as Fall River Bishop James L. Connolly told him he could no longer function as a priest in the diocese.

The investigation has helped renew a crisis that many in the church thought and hoped had ended almost 20 years ago after a church scandal erupted in Boston.

The grand jury said dioceses did not conduct genuine investigations with properly trained personnel, but assigned fellow clergy to ask questions and make credibility determinations "about the colleagues with whom they live and work". The grand jury said it found cases in which police or prosecutors learned of clergy sex abuse allegations but did not investigate out of deference to church officials. In some cases, priests who were raping children were provided with housing and living expenses by their dioceses, regardless of whether those resources were being used to facilitate more abuse. Other information in the report indicates it is Lawrence Brandt, who retired in 2015, but the claims against that bishop have to do with his supervisory role over abusive priests.

One priest named in the report pleaded guilty last month to charges that he sexually abused a 10-year-old boy more than 20 years ago. The bishop later shared in the "grief" - in a letter to the priest, not the girl.

"I'm not sure that there's any way you can guarantee that there won't ever be a failure in the life of any priest going into the future", Wuerl said. "I too share your grief".

Another in Greensburg impregnated a 17-year-old girl, and married and divorced her within months.

Angela Liddle, president of the Pennsylvania Family Support Alliance, said after the report's release, "The grand jury's findings confirm a deeply disturbing pattern of behavior both by the perpetrator priests and the Catholic Church hierarchy".

The cardinal said that the experience of meeting with victims of abuse "urged me to develop quickly a "zero tolerance" policy for clergy who committed such abuse", and that he put in place procedures to ensure allegations were addressed "fairly and forthrightly".

"Priests were raping little boys and girls and the men of God who were responsible for them not only did nothing: They hid it all", the report reads. Beginning in 1988, Wuerl enacted policies such as mandatory reporting to civil authorities, that would later become part of the Dallas Charter for the Protection of Children, adopted by the US bishops in 2002.

The report of nearly 1,400 pages covers a period of 70 years into the past, including information from the early 2000s, a time when news of the clerical sex abuse scandal erupted in the US.

The grand jury recommended that criminal and civil statutes of limitations on sexual abuse in Pennsylvania be reformed to prosecute the detailed allegations of sexual abuse stemming from decades past.

Many victims claimed they were drugged or otherwise manipulated.

The Philadelphia archdiocese and the Johnstown-Altoona diocese were not included in the investigation because they have been the subject of three previous scathing grand jury investigations. "I really think that overall Wuerl exercised his oversight properly", he said.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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