Redacted version of report detailing alleged child sexual abuse, cover up by PA dioceses released
HARRISBURG — A redacted version of the Grand Jury Report detailing the alleged child sexual abuse — and cover up — within six of Pennsylvania’s Catholic Dioceses was released Tuesday afternoon.
Attorney General Josh Shapiro revealed the findings in a press conference.
“Today, the most comprehensive report on child sexual abuse within the church ever produced in our country was released,” he said. “Pennsylvanians can finally learn the extent of sexual abuse in these dioceses. For the first time, we can all begin to understand the systematic cover up by church leaders that followed. The abuse scarred every diocese. The cover up was sophisticated. The church protected the institution at all costs.”
In the report, 301 Catholic priests between the six dioceses (Allentown, Erie, Harrisburg, Greensburg, Pittsburgh, Scranton) were identified as predator priests who allegedly sexually abused children while serving in active ministry. The grand jury found detailed accounts of over 1,000 children who were victimized.
Senior church officials, including bishops, monsignors and others, also knew about the abuse and allegedly covered it up to avoid scandal, criminal charges and monetary damages to the dioceses, the report said.
In Harrisburg, 45 predator priests were named.
As a result of the two-year investigation, the grand jury issued four recommendations to change Pennsylvania law: eliminate the criminal statute of limitations for sexually abusing children, create a two-year “civil window” for child sex abuse victims who couldn’t file lawsuits before, clarify the penalties for a continuing failure to report child abuse and prohibit “non -disclosure” agreements regarding cooperation with law enforcement.
The release of the Grand Jury Report comes two weeks after the Diocese of Harrisburg revealed its list of clergy and seminarians who were accused of sexual abuse of a child since the 1940s.