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Latest Report: Catholic Church Child Abuse Investigations Even More Shocking

crosses and church pews | personal injury attorney

A new grand jury examination of internal documents from six Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania, some of them dating back to 1947, reveals that accusations against around 300 “predator priests” of sexually abusing more than 1,000 child victims are credible.

“We believe that the real number of children whose records were lost or who were afraid to ever come forward is in the thousands,” the grand jury report says.

The latest inquiry, one of the broadest into church sex abuse in U.S. history, elaborates: “Priests were raping little boys and girls. And the men of God who were responsible for them not only did nothing; they hid it all. For decades, Monsignors, auxiliary bishops, bishops, archbishops, and cardinals have mostly been protected. Many, including some named in this report, have been promoted.”

The 18-month investigation of six of the state’s dioceses — Allentown, Erie, Greensburg, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh and Scranton — follows other state grand jury exams of the matter throughout the U.S and the world. The Pennsylvania investigation uncovered more than two million documents, including “secret archives” (which church leaders referred to)  “of abuse that were actively hidden from the public for decades,” said state Attorney General Josh Shapiro at a news conference which disclosed his grand jury’s revelations. This investigation comes not long after sexual abuse and cover-up revelations in two other Pennsylvania Catholic dioceses.

The 18-month inquiry revealed Diocese “playbooks for concealing the truth,” the grand jury said. Words minimizing the abuse, such as “inappropriate contact” instead of “rape,” were used. Priests who were untrained in sexual abuse cases were assigned to investigate their brother clerics. Also revealed was a practice of not informing parishioners of the real reasons behind sudden removals of these rogue priests.

The report outlined a few of the offenses committed by culpable clergymen:

  • A seven-year-old Erie boy was sexually abused by a priest who then told him he should go to confession and confess his “sins” to that same abusive priest.
  • Another victim in Pittsburgh was forced to pose naked as Christ on the cross while priests photographed him with a Polaroid camera. The clerics then gave the boy, and others abused by the same cadre of priests, gold cross necklaces. These crucifixes marked them as having been “groomed” for abuse to other members of their “priestly fraternity.”
  • And yet another boy in an undisclosed diocese was repeatedly raped from age of consent 13 to 15  by a priest whose abuse was so physically oppressive that the boy suffered severe spinal injuries. He became addicted to painkillers and later died of an overdose.

This latest report notes that few criminal cases may arise from this massive investigation because of Pennsylvania’s criminal statute of limitations. “As a consequence of the cover-up, almost every instance of abuse we found is too old to be prosecuted.”

There has never been a comprehensive assessment of the full scope of child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church in the U.S., though several have been attempted. For years, American abuse survivors have clamored for the government to carry out a comprehensive nationwide inquiry similar to the one in Australia, where a royal commission spent four years examining sexual abuse of children within a variety of religious and civic institutions – including the Catholic Church.

Victims of These Terrible Crimes May Still Get Justice

It is hard to imagine anything more destructive to a child’s emotional health than being molested. Even though many victims are no longer children, it is virtually impossible for most of them to escape the scars of such betrayals by someone they trusted into their adult lives.

Many are ultimately diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other similar psychological illnesses. And, as you’ve read, some carry their pain and suffering into adulthood. Many find themselves addicted to drugs in hopes of coping with their emotional devastation.

However, sexual abuse victims at the hands of priests, teachers or any other adult may be able to get justice. The Philadelphia personal injury attorneys with The Cochran Firm can help you and your child seek damages for all of the pain, suffering, and losses you have experienced. Give us a call or click the chat feature on this page to arrange for a free consultation.