Harrisburg Diocese Grand Jury report: Bishop persuaded Vatican in letter not to defrock priests suspended for sexual abuse

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LOWER PAXTON TOWNSHIP, DAUPHIN COUNTY, Pa. -- Now that the Grand Jury report has been released, many questions have been raised regarding Bishop Ronald Gainer of the Harrisburg Diocese.

According to the Grand Jury report, which was released on Tuesday, Bishop Gainer persuaded the Vatican in a 2014 letter, to not defrock two priests who had been suspended for sexual abuse.

“Bishop Gainer is incredibly apologetic to all victims of sexual abuse," Matt Haverstick, who represents the Harrisburg Diocese.

In the letter, Gainer asks that two alleged abusers, be permitted to remain priests, even though he knew what they were being accused of doing.

The report states Joseph Pease, is accused of inappropriately touching a child and performing oral sex

James Beeman, admitted to raping an 8-year-old girl repeatedly.

According to the report, Bishop Gainer wrote that he wanted Pease to QUOTE -- “live with prayer and penance" and "without further anxiety and suffering to the situation and without risking public knowledge of his crimes.”

Matt Haverstick, who represents the Harrisburg Diocese agreed to meet with FOX43 on behalf of Bishop Gainer, who was not immediately available for comment.

"That’s not really what that language means I know that it’s worded in a way that is particularly 'heartfull' or helpful but the point is that case was publicly known and had been reported to law enforcement..it’s really standard language that is used in those cases, it does not reflect how Bishop Gainer feels," said Haverstick.

Haverstick alleges Joseph Pease was sick with dementia at the time, giving him some leeway according to church laws.

“Under canon law if a priest is particularly sick or is unable to aid in his defense or the victims won’t come in there’s really sort of a almost mechanical performa letter that goes out and those are the letters that Bishop Gainer signed that says to the Vatican we can’t really put this person through a conical trial because they are sick," said Haverstick.

FOX43 asked why Gainer didn't want the public to know and why those comments were made in the letter to the Vatican, and Haverstick replied with the following comment: "That’s language that is used almost by rope in some of these letters which are almost themselves wrote under church law when you’re closing out a church law case," said Haverstick.

FOX43 also asked Haverstick how the Harrisburg Diocese is making sure this doesn't happen again and he tells us that the diocese has new trainings, procedures and policies in place that they follow, however, he did not elaborate on what those were.

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