Monday, 19 November, 2018

Pennsylvania priests 'abused thousands of children'

New report details horrific abuse by priests More than 300 Pennsylvania priests committed sexual abuse over decades
Ellis Copeland | 15 August, 2018, 19:06

The nearly 900-page report also has harsh words for Roman Catholic Church leadership, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer: "Priests were raping little boys and girls and the men of God who were responsible not only did nothing: They hid it all", it says.

The grand jury has estimated that at least 1,000 children were victimized, though it believes the "real number" could be "in the thousands", as some of the records were lost and many victims were afraid to come forward.

Several high-ranking clergy members, including the most senior Roman Catholic cleric in Australia, have gone to prison or been ordered to serve home detention sentences.

A 19th, the Diocese of St. Cloud in Minnesota, announced plans in February to file for bankruptcy protection.The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis said in late May that it has agreed to pay a $210 million settlement to 450 victims of clergy sexual abuse, one of the largest payouts to date in the US over the scandal. However, he remained in active ministry for 15 years (1987-2002) and was repeatedly reassigned to new parishes.

They will argue their cases before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in September.

"But the letter was not for the girl", the grand jury said. The Attorney General can use the presentment to later file charges.

The bishops say they are "profoundly saddened each time we hear about the harm caused as a result of abuse, at the hands of a clergyman of any rank", while also promising "to offer avenues to healing for those who have been abused" as well as working resolutely "so that such abuse can not happen".

Dellamalva, who was ordained in 1975, last functioned as a priest in the Greensburg Diocese in 1984, before he resigned from the priesthood in 1986, according to the report.

While the grand jury said dioceses have established internal processes and seem to refer complaints to law enforcement more promptly, it suggested that important changes are lacking. The report emerged from one of the nation's most exhaustive investigations of clergy sexual abuse.

But because so many are now dead or their alleged crimes falls outside the statute of limitations, only two have been charged as a result of the investigation. "We don't have a statute of limitations on the crime of murder". Wuerl, who was bishop of the Pittsburgh diocese from 1988 to 2006, disputed the allegations.

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The grand jury also said a "civil window" law is necessary to allow older victims to sue the dioceses for damage inflicted on their lives when they were children. Some are accused of being in possession of child pornography, others of inappropriate touching, kissing, soliciting a child for sex, but most are listed as "sexually abusing a child".

Zubik's name appears dozens of times in the grand jury report in connection to priests accused of sex abuse. "She stated that her son was now a heavy drinker and she believed that it stemmed back to the sexual abuse and his early exposure to alcohol by the priest".

"Despite some institutional reform, individual leaders of the church have largely escaped public accountability", the grand jury wrote in the roughly 900-page report. The oldest victim who spoke to the grand jury was 83. Additionally, future agreements should state contact with police about criminal activity is permitted.

Authorities were able to charge just two, including a priest who has since pleaded guilty.

Victims of clergy sexual abuse, or their family members react as Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro speaks during a news conference at the Pennsylvania Capitol in Harrisburg on August 14, 2018.

"Above all else, (bishops) protected their institution, at all cost", Shapiro said. That means perhaps many more reports such as the one in Pennsylvania, with new revelations and more criticism of the bishops and the Church. In it, he admitted to being "aroused" by a boy and sharing sexually suggestive text with numerous other boys, according to the Attorney General's Office. In some cases, priests who were raping children were provided with housing and living expenses by their dioceses, regardless of whether those resources were being used to facilitate more abuse.

A couple dioceses made a decision to strip the accused of their anonymity ahead of the report and released the names of clergy members who were accused of sexual misconduct. It has since been updated multiple times, most recently in mid-July.

You can read the full report here.

"The main thing was not to help children but to avoid 'scandal, '" says a biting sentence about the behavior of church leaders and officials in the report, detailing a months-long investigation of clergy sex abuse claims in the dioceses of Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, Allentown, Scranton, Greensburg and Erie.

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