HARRISBURG, Pa. - Representative Mark Rozzi from Berks County has been advocating for the release of the Grand Jury report on the clergy sexual abuse case. Following the Harrisburg Diocese releasing the list of 72 people accused of abuse, Rep. Rozzi says it's a step in the right direction, but is not enough.
"They can come out and name all these priests and say that they support the Grand Jury," said Rep. Rozzi. "But until they support the legislation to give victims the ability to heal, we're not moving forward."
Rep. Rozzi wants the Harrisburg Catholic Diocese to do more than just release a list of names. Current law gives a child abuse victim until the age of 30 to sue for damages in civil court. Rozzi, along with Attorney General Josh Shapiro, want legislation passed that would lift time limit bans on criminal and civil court cases involving child sex abuse. Shapiro released this statement on the Harrisburg Diocese releasing the names of those accused of abuse.
“It is long past due for the Diocese of Harrisburg to make public the names of predator priests within the Catholic Church. Their proclamations today only come after intense public pressure and in the face of the imminent release of the Grand Jury report exposing decades of child abuse and cover up. Per last week's Supreme Court Order, this month the Office of Attorney General will publish an honest and comprehensive accounting of widespread sexual abuse by more than 300 priests in six Pennsylvania dioceses. To this point, the Diocese of Harrisburg has been adverse to transparency and has not been cooperative. A now public opinion by the judge supervising the Grand Jury last year made it clear they sought to end the investigation entirely. The true test of the Diocese's commitment to victims of abuse and reforms within the Church will be their actions following the release of the report. Attorney General Shapiro has consistently called for the elimination of the criminal statute of limitations and reforms to the civil statute to give all victims the opportunity to obtain justice in a court of law.”
Rozzi says he's disappointed in Bishop Gainer for not supporting this type of legislation publicly.
"Until [Bishop Gainer] does [support legislation], you know victims are still going to be left out on the corner and not be able to move forward and heal properly," said Rozzi.
Rozzi was abused by an Allentown Diocese priest in 1983 and 1984, the priest that abused him, abused some 200 other children. He says, the release of this information does not mean abuse stops, even if the abusers have been removed from the diocese.
"These predator priests who are still alive, they could be in that ice cream shop waiting for their next victim to come in," said Rozzi. "These predator priests do not stop abusing children just because they're identified. They're looking for their next victims."
Rozzi says the diocese released this list because they are in crisis mode, and while he believes this information will help parishioners understand what really went on, he says this list is just the tip of the iceberg.
"If the parishioners truly dug into this," said Rozzi. "They would understand really what happened in these churches. They would probably be taking down these churches brick by brick."
Rozzi encourages anyone who has been or is being abused to speak out when they're ready and receive help.
Editor's Note: The Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg announced August 6 that a name has been added to the list, bringing the total to 72 names.