The state supreme court released a grand jury report with nearly 900 pages detailing the results of investigations into child sexual abuse in six of Pennsylvania’s eight Catholic dioceses. More than 300 “predator priests” were found to have committed sexual abuse in Pennsylvania, harming more than 1,000 mostly male children.
The report begins with the following statement:
“We, the members of this grand jury, need you to hear this. We know some of you have head some of it before. There have been other reports about child sex abuse within the Catholic Church. But never on this scale. For many of us, those earlier stories happened someplace else, someplace away. Now we know the truth: it happened everywhere.”
“Today, the most comprehensive report on child sexual abuse within the church ever produced in our country was released,” Attorney General Josh Shapiro 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.”
Most of the victims were boys; but there were girls too. Some were teens; many were pre-pubescent. Some were manipulated with alcohol or pornography. Some were made to masturbate their assailants or were groped by them. Some were raped orally, some vaginally, some anally. But all of them were brushed aside in every part of the state by church leaders who preferred to protect the abusers and — above all — their institution, according to one of the passages.
“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,” the grand jury wrote in its report.
The Guardian reports that the incidents described include a priest who impregnated a minor and helped her get an abortion, then was allowed to stay in the ministry; a priest who confessed to the oral and anal rape of at least 15 boys, including one as young as seven; and a priest who collected the urine, pubic hair and menstrual blood of girls he abused in his home.
Last month, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled the interim report would be released with temporary redactions by 14 August. The redactions hid several names of clergy members who claim to be wrongfully accused in the report and have filed legal challenges.
Today, everybody is aware of the fact that sexual abuse is actually happening in churches; but this report should show the world how frequent and violent sexual harassment in the Catholic Church really was.
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