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Reaction following PA Supreme Court decision to delay release of child sex abuse report

HARRISBURG, P.A. --- On Wednesday, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court blocked the release of a grand jury report into sex abuse at six Pennsylvania catholic dioceses...

Legal challenges to the nearly 900-page report were accepted.

The report was expected to released by the end of this month.

Rep. Mark Rozzi (D-Berk), an advocate for statute of limitation reform, said the decision left him "emotional."

"As a victim and a legislator...it felt like a punch in the gut," said Rep. Rozzi.

Rozzi has spoken publicly about being sexually abused as teenager by a priest.

He said he believes a subject of the report is trying to prevent its contents from being seen by the public.

"They have wanted nothing but to protect themselves and put victims out on the curb like trash and say please just go away. Well, we're not going away," said Rozzi.

FOX 43 reached out to the six catholic dioceses involved in the investigation.

Their statements go, as follows:

Diocese of Scranton: "As stated previously, The Diocese of Scranton has not and will not block the release of the Grand Jury report. The contents of the report will be painful, but it is necessary for the report to be released in order for us to learn from it and to continue in our efforts to be responsive to victims and to create safe environments for our children. With regards to the stay, it's important that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court take all the steps it deems necessary."

Diocese of Greensburg: “The Diocese of Greensburg supports release of the grand jury report. The Diocese of Greensburg and Bishop Edward C. Malesic did not file a petition with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court that led to the June 20 ruling.”

Diocese of Allentown: “The Diocese of Allentown has cooperated with the Grand Jury and has never attempted to block or delay the release of the Report, nor has any Diocesan official made such an attempt.”

Diocese of Erie: "Bishop Lawrence Persico and the Diocese of Erie did not seek a stay of the publication of the grand jury report, and thus cannot comment on the merits of the legal arguments of others. As demonstrated from the recent revisions to our Policy for the Protection of Children, we are committed to transparency. We anxiously await the Supreme Court’s decision on this matter, and support the release of the report which will give victims a voice. Until the report is released, we will continue our efforts to identify abusers and provide counseling and assistance to victims."

Diocese of Pittsburgh: "We have cooperated fully with the Office of the Attorney General throughout the Grand Jury process and we continue to do so. Neither the Diocese of Pittsburgh nor Bishop David Zubik have motions pending before the Supreme Court to prevent the release of the Grand Jury Report."

Diocese of Harrisburg: "The Diocese of Harrisburg has fully cooperated with the Office of the Attorney General. The Diocese and Bishop Gainer strongly support the release of the Grand Jury report and have not filed anything to cause the stay ordered today. However, as we have stated before, it is critical that this Report is accurate."

Rep. Rozzi said he was, particularly, disturbed by the final sentence of the Diocese of Harrisburg's response.

"Don't sugar coat it. Are you saying that victims in this grand jury lied about being sexually abused or about things that have gone on in the cover-up of the church? Is that what you're saying? That it's inaccurate that way?" said Rozzi.

Attorney General Josh Shapiro issued a series of tweets Thursday, expressing support for any of the victims involved in the report.

He also assured his office will be "fighting tirelessly" for the report's public release.

FOX 43 also reached out the Archdiocese of Philadelphia for comment.

A spokesperson released the following statement: "The Archdiocese of Philadelphia was not a party to the Grand Jury proceedings that recently took place in Pennsylvania. Further, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia has no administrative jurisdiction over the dioceses which were subject to investigation. As such, we would not be suited to comment on recent developments."

Karen Baker, CEO of the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape, issued the following statement: “We’re shocked and very disappointed that motions were filed to prevent the public from learning more details about the widespread child sexual abuse—and decades-long cover-up— that has taken place in Catholic church dioceses across the Commonwealth."

PCAR says the filings that stopped the release of the report are "an example of valuing reputation over the safety of victims."

They worry these actions can "recreate feelings for the victim of helplessness and anxiety similar to those felt at the time of the abuse.

"Not only is this news painful and re-traumatizing for some survivors, it prolongs the worry of thousands of Pennsylvanians who have been waiting to learn if someone they knew and trusted has been implicated in the commission or cover up of sexual abuse," said Baker.

Rozzi said there is no time table for the report's release but expects it to either be released in full or with parts redacted.

He said he hopes to push forward Senate Bill 261, which includes reform to Pennsylvania's statute of limitations, awaits debate on the House floor.

However, he said it wouldn't come forward until after summer recess due to work on the budget.

He said he's thinking about the victims while the process endures.

"My heart, first, goes out to them and their families because I know they're suffering out there. I know how I felt emotional [Wednesday] when I heard this and I know there are a lot of victims out there hanging on by a thread," said Rozzi.