Redacted version of grand jury report on child sex abuse within PA Catholic Dioceses made public

HARRISBURG, Pa ---  Attorney General Josh Shapiro, surrounded by survivors and families of victims of child sex abuse, detailed the findings of a two-year grand jury investigation into child sex abuse within six Catholic Diocese in Pennsylvania.

The six diocese were Harrisburg, Greensburg, Allentown, Erie, Scranton and Pittsburgh.

On Tuesday, a redacted version of the grand jury report was made public following an order by the state Supreme Court that it had to be released by 2 p.m.

You can read the report here.

"These predator priests were allowed to thrive in darkness for decades...But sunshine is a powerful disinfectant," said Shapiro.

The 884-page report names 301 priests compiled through information found through half a million internal church documents subpoena'd for the report and victim testimony.

Shapiro said the number of child victims identified in the report exceeds 1,000 people.

"These children...Children!...Surrounded by adults enabling their abuse...Were taught that this abuse was not only normal, but that it was holy," said Shapiro.

45 priests in the report were within the Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg.

This number is less than the list released by the Diocese of Harrisburg in on August 1, which named more than 70 accused clergy members dating back to the late 1940s.

"We should emphasize that while the list of priests is long, we don't think we got them all," said Shapiro.

The report contains redactions because of legal challenges from individuals named in the report.

"Let me be very clear: My office is not satisfied with the release of a redacted report. Every redaction represents an incomplete story of abuse that deserves to be told," said Shapiro.

He said they will have an argument before the state Supreme Court on September 26, with the goal of eliminating any redactions that are in the report.

Shapiro read off examples of abuse occurring in each of the diocese, including this one within the Diocese of Harrisburg.

"One priest, Father Joe Pease, sexually assaulted a boy repeatedly when the boy was between 13 and 15. Pease admitted to diocese officials to finding the victim naked upstairs in the rectory - but said it was all just 'horse play' and nothing sexual occurred," read Shapiro.

Along with the details of the alleged abuse, Shapiro also spoke of inaction by higher ranking church officials, citing information from so-called "secret archives."

"'At this point we are at an impasse, allegations and no admission,' the diocese wrote in one of those secret memos before cycling this predator through church-run treatment and allowing him back in active ministry for seven more years," said Shapiro.

A survivor who spoke, anonymously with FOX 43 said he was physically abused by Herbert Shank, a priest who served within the Diocese of Harrisburg for nearly 30 years.

He said he testified for the grand jury report.

information in the grand jury report states the Diocese of Harrisburg was told by a victim in 1994 about alleged abuse by Shank against seven alter boys.

Church records also showing knowledge of disturbing photos and videos of the abuse.

Information about Shank can be found on page 575-577 of the grand jury report.

Our source said he's struggled, mentally, for decades as a result of the alleged abuse.

"I've not been very good with the relations side of it. I've not been very good at being a good husband or a good father at times and I need to start that," said the source.

He said he and other survivors wanted to be involved in the grand jury investigation to get long-sought after closure.

"This is part of the healing process, having this report come out, allowing people to tell their stories and allowing people to get answers for the questions they need in court or in some other mechanism...It's time," said the source.

Recommendations issued by the grand jury as part of the investigation were the following:

  1. Eliminate the criminal statute of limitations for sexually abusing children.
  2. Create a "civil window" so older victims may now sue for damages
  3. Clarify penalties for a continuing failure to report child abuse
  4. Specify that civil confidentiality agreements do not cover communications with law enforcement

Shapiro said their investigation into child sex abuse within the Catholic Dioceses is still on-going.

Anyone who experienced abuse as a child is asked to call 1-888-538-8541.

Bishop Ronald Gainer and the Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg issued a statement following the reports release that can be read here.