Philadelphia firm files suit to compel the release of grand jury report detailing alleged sexual abuse by clergy
PHILADELPHIA — A Philadelphia-based law firm has filed suit on behalf of a child sexual abuse victim requesting that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court unseal a statewide grand jury report into sexual abuse by members of the clergy.
The law firm of Kline & Specter joined Pennsylvania attorney general Josh Shapiro and members of the news media in a legal battle against 26 petitioners — reportedly priests and former priests — who are seeking to keep the report secret, according to a press release issued by the firm.
The firm is representing Todd Frey, who was a victim of sexual abuse by a Harrisburg priest in the 1980’s. He testified before a grand jury that he believes he and others have the right to see the more than 800-page report completed by the grand jury. The report is believed to detail clergy sexual abuse in six of Pennsylvania’s eight Catholic dioceses.
“Mr. Frey is one of the victims whose voice must be heard in opposition to those who seek to keep this grand jury report secret,” said attorney Tom Kline, who is representing Frey. “We hope that the court will act quickly to release the entire report.”
Kline & Specter recently obtained the largest-ever settlement against the Archdiocese of Philadelphia for the family of Sean McIlmail, in a case involving his alleged prolonged sexual abuse by a priest at Resurrection of Our Lord Parish in Philadelphia. The suit claimed that McIlmail was abused for three years, when he was between the ages of 11 and 14, and that the archdiocese knew about more than a decade of allegations against his alleged attacker, Father Robert Brennan, who was twice removed from prior parishes.
McIlmail died of a drug overdose at age 26.
Shapiro had sought to release the grand jury report, but it was temporarily blocked when the current and former members of the clergy took their case for secrecy to the Supreme Court.
Nine news organizations, including the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, have also sought to compel the release of the grand jury report.