Church report: 1,000 child victims in Pennsylvania

Priests in church

In the news conference, Shapiro described allegations of a priest who physically molested a group of children by telling them he was doing a "cancer check", one who he said "impregnated" a girl, others who had boys strike a religious pose naked to take pictures of them.

The cardinal said that the experience of meeting with victims of abuse "urged me to develop quickly a "zero tolerance" policy for clergy who committed such abuse", and that he put in place procedures to ensure allegations were addressed "fairly and forthrightly".

Dioceses also sent priests for evaluations at church-run psychiatric treatment centers and did not explain why priests were removed from their parishes, the grand jury said.

The report is the result of an 18-month investigation spearheaded by Shapiro that examined six of the state's eight dioceses.

As a result of the church cover-up, nearly every instance of abuse was too old to be prosecuted, but the report referenced at least two priests who had been sexually assaulting children within the last decade.

Attorney General Josh Shapiro said the investigation is ongoing.

Local witnesses, including former Berks County Catholic school students in the report, accuse clergy members of sexual abuse.

United States media report that Pennsylvania has had the highest number of grand jury investigations into child sex abuse in the church in the country. The Archdiocese of Boston in 2002 paid $10 million to victims of a priest who had abused more than 130 children during his tenure and in 2003 paid $85 million to victims and their parents who had filed lawsuits over the abuse.

"My belief is what happened to me shouldn't happen to another child", Lennon said.

Wuerl said he expects the grand jury's findings from the 70 years it explored will be "profoundly disturbing".

In an official response released with the report, the Diocese of Pittsburgh said that the phrase "circle of secrecy" appears in paperwork related to the request of a particular priest to return to ministry, and that it was used to make clear that there could be no "circle of secrecy" about the priest's past problems.

In July, the Pennsylvania supreme court ruled the interim report would be released with temporary redactions by 14 August.


More than 300 Catholic priests in six Pennsylvania dioceses are accused of either sexually abusing children or helping others cover up abuse.

As part of the investigation, records from the dioceses of Allentown, Erie, Greensburg, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh and Scranton were analyzed.

Wuerl wrote to priests late Monday, defending himself ahead of the release of a roughly 900-page report that victim advocates call the largest and most exhaustive such review by any USA state.

Dellamalva was among a handful of priests accused of sexual misconduct in Tuesday's report to have New England connections. "It was child sexual abuse, including rape". According to the report, church leaders covered the abusive acts up by claiming priests or clergymen were playing around or "wrestling" with the children.

Lennon, 71, who said he was raped by a priest in Iowa when he was 12 years old, urged lawmakers to enact laws to "protect children" and let them sue the abusers without limit.

"As a body of bishops, we are shamed by and sorry for the sins and omissions by Catholic priests and Catholic Bishops", read the statement signed by USCCB President Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston and Bishop Timothy L. Doherty of Lafayette, Ind., committee chairman for the USCCB's Protection of Children and Young People. Pennsylvania's two other dioceses, Philadelphia and Altoona-Johnstown, were the subjects of earlier grand jury reports, which found similarly damaging information about clergy and bishops in those dioceses.

Wuerl wrote to priests late Monday, ahead of Tuesday's release of the report.

The document comes at a time of renewed scrutiny and fresh scandal at the highest levels of the US Catholic Church.

"Due to the churches' manipulation of our weak laws in Pennsylvania, too many predators are out of reach", Shapiro said.

Clarify penalties for a continuing failure to report child abuse.

First, the grand jury pushed state legislators "to stop shielding child sexual predators behind the criminal statute of limitations", saying a recent amendment that permits victims to come forward until age 50 is "still not good enough".

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