“Pa. Supreme Court blocks release of priest sex abuse report” & related article

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The Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Wednesday blocked the expected release of a massive report examining sexual abuse and misconduct by priests in six Pennsylvania dioceses, including Allentown.

The state’s high court issued an order barring Cambria County Judge Norman Krumenacker, who supervised the grand jury that heard testimony over two years, and Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro from releasing the report until further order.

The court’s order does not indicate who sought to block release of the report but it indicates the court received more than one application for a stay.

Matt Kerr, spokesman for the Allentown Diocese, said the diocese was not one of the petitioners that moved to block the report.

“We have not and will not,” he said.

The Harrisburg Diocese also did not move to block the report, spokesman Mike Barley said. The Scranton Diocese said it did not request the stay and would not.

Greensburg Diocese’s spokesman said neither the diocese nor Bishop Edward C. Malesic filed the court postponement request.

A spokesman for the Pittsburgh Diocese said, “Neither the Diocese of Pittsburgh nor Bishop David Zubik have motions pending before the Supreme Court to block the release of the report.”

The Erie Diocese could not be reached.

Shapiro had said he would speak publicly on the investigation by the end of June, after bishops in the six dioceses pledged not to file legal challenges blocking release of the report.

In a statement Wednesday, Shapiro said, “My legal team and I will continue fighting tirelessly to make sure the victims of this abuse are able to tell their stories and the findings of this investigation are made public to the people of Pennsylvania.”

The state law outlining jury rules only allows a prosecutor’s office to appeal a judge’s order to keep a grand jury report under wraps. It also says a judge may allow someone mentioned in a grand jury report but not charged to file a rebuttal of the findings. But it is mute on whether action can be taken to block a report’s publication.

Still, lawyers can and do file appeals with the presiding grand jury judge and with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to shut down grand jury investigations.

Attorney Richard Serbin, who has represented numerous people in cases alleging sexual abuse by priests for around 30 years, said he was shocked and disappointed by the order.

“The issue of child sex abuse that has gone on for decades within the church needs to be exposed and I’m disappointed in any proceeding or maneuver that delays that,” he said.

Serbin said he knows that evidence against priests that previously had not been disclosed publicly was presented to the grand jury.

After the court issued its order, state Rep. Mark Rozzi, D-Berks, was distraught and angry, calling the decision “a punch in the gut.” Rozzi, who testified before the grand jury, has spoken publicly, often in graphic detail, about the priest who raped him growing up in Reading. Last week, he held a news conference saying the release of the grand jury report could spur the Legislature to pass a new bill enhancing the legal rights of adults who experienced child sex abuse.

On Wednesday afternoon, Rozzi sat in his office, his face in his hands, with a scrapbook of news clippings about child sex abuse issues and a hastily written speech before him. He called the court order a “travesty of justice and an insult to all victims of childhood sex abuse, not just Catholic victims.”

He questioned why the Supreme Court would get involved in the release of the grand jury report when state law does not permit that and the high court never issued a stay in any other grand jury report involving child sex abuse and cover-ups. Rozzi added he hoped the court was not trying to protect religious figures and “public officials and community leaders” whom Krumenacker hinted would be identified in his prior order rejecting legal requests to postpone publication.

“This is absolutely devastating to many victims,” Rozzi said. “I understand the Supreme Court is going to review legal challenges. So this is not it. We have an opportunity for this report still to still be released.”

Several people who testified and advocacy groups say the report’s findings could be devastating to the church, not only because of the abuse but also alleged efforts to cover it up.

“It’ll be blistering,” said James Faluszczak, who says he was abused as a teenager by Monsignor Daniel J. Martin, an Erie priest who died in 2006.

Court records, news accounts and data compiled by advocacy groups show that more than two dozen priests in the Allentown Diocese or serving the Lehigh Valley outside of diocesan administration have been accused of sexual misconduct going back to the 1960s.

The diocesan administration led by Bishop Alfred Schlert — who became bishop after the grand jury was empaneled — said it cooperated fully with investigators.

“We welcome the release of the report,” the diocese said in a statement this month. “This story needs to be told, so that we can learn from the report and continue to improve protections for children.”

Along with Allentown, the investigation covers the Erie, Greensburg, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh and Scranton dioceses. Last weekend, Scranton Bishop Joseph C. Bambera offered his “deepest apologies to the victims of such abuse, to their families, to the faithful of our church and to everyone impacted by the behaviors described in this report.”

The investigation began in 2016 after another grand jury looking at the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese found at least 50 priests or religious leaders had sexually abused hundreds of minors. The report also found many of the allegations were not reported to law enforcement, but instead were covered up by bishops for decades. Grand juries looking into complaints in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia reported similarly explosive findings. The forthcoming report would cover the remaining dioceses in Pennsylvania.

More than 250,000 Catholics are in the Allentown Diocese. Across Pennsylvania, 3.2 million people are Catholic, according to the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference.


PREVIOUS GRAND JURIES

Grand juries also investigated allegations in the state’s other two dioceses.

2005: Philadelphia grand jury investigates allegations against more than 60 priests, finding abusive priests were moved around and not reported to police.

2011: Phildelphia’s second grand jury focused on the church’s practices since 2005, finding many credibly accused priests remained active; charges are filed against three priests, a teacher and Monsignor William Lynn, who was convicted of recklessly endangering children for not removing an abusive priest. His conviction was overturned, then reinstated and he awaits retrial.

2016: A statewide grand jury into the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese uncovers allegations against more than 50 priests and an effort to keep the complaints secret.


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Twitter @tmdarragh

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Emily Opilo and the Scranton Times-Tribune contributed to this story.

______________________________________________

Court Halts Release of Report on Pennsylvania Priest Abuse

The New York Times

By The Associated Press

 

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Pennsylvania’s highest court on Wednesday held up the release of a grand jury report into the handling of sexual abuse claims involving six Roman Catholic dioceses and local officials, days before it was expected to be made public.

The two-paragraph order did not explain the reasons but said nothing in the court file except the new order is available for public inspection.

The report is expected to reveal details of widespread abuse and efforts to conceal and protect abusive priests.

The court told the grand jury supervisory judge and the state attorney general’s office they may not release the findings until the court gives its permission.

Victim advocates have said the report is expected to be the largest and most exhaustive by a U.S. state.

The two-year investigation covered six of Pennsylvania’s eight dioceses, churches with some 1.7 million members.

Before the latest order, state prosecutors had said they were likely to release it by the end of next week.

“My legal team and I will continue fighting tirelessly to make sure the victims of this abuse are able to tell their stories and the findings of this investigation are made public to the people of Pennsylvania,” said state Attorney General Josh Shapiro.

Judge Norman Krumenacker, based in Cambria County, earlier this month made public his decision to reject an effort to delay the release of the report or let those named in it challenge the details before it’s made public.


22 Responses to “Pa. Supreme Court blocks release of priest sex abuse report” & related article

  1. MS says:

    Where’s justice? Where’s truth? Where’s transparency? Where’s compassion for the victims? This is “Christ’s Church”? As Anna Maria Tremonti would say, “Hello”. They want their parishioners in the confessional but they themselves are above confession, truth, repentance, admittance, acknowledgement, etc. Perhaps the bishops financial futures are at stake? These men don’t take vows of poverty. Shepherd’s Fund is lacking integrity. The chastity vow is out the window. And I continue to groan at the protectionism from the highest courts that are supposed to be fair and just, especially when the evidence is in their face.

  2. bc says:

    The limit for the release of the report is tomorrow but the disclosure by the state Supreme Court that it will identify more than 300 predator priests who were protected by their bishops and diocesan administrators is already known. I recent weeks letters have been read to the Faithfull bu Church officials to damage control the impact of the release of the report.

  3. bc says:

    The release of the report is being livestreamed right now see here:
    https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2018/08/14/grand-jury-report-pennsylvania-details-abuse-catholic-priests/980687002/

    Several abuses have been given as examples; all are disturbing; all were covered-up by senior Church officials including Cardinal Wuerl and several Bishops. The Church promoted officials who covered-up the clerical abuse. In one case priests(plural) were exchanging child pornography they had produced themselves. One such picture represented a boy standing nude posed as Jesus, arms outstretched like he was being crucified.

  4. Prima Facie. James Porter Bateman says:

    Sylvia, as we discussed back in the Dick Nadeau website days, Project Truth (Cornwall, Ontario) ; Cornwall is just one small room in a huge international building, where organized sexual abuse, exploitation and sharing of “victims” exists. As story after story after story continues with the theme of collusion, secrecy and cover–up.

    • bc says:

      Correct. The modus operandi is the same everywhere.

      The scandals involving clerical abuse also happened in a context of tolerance of sexually active gay and straight members of the clergy (and of religious orders) involved in consensual sexual relationships. Although not unlawful per se in modern society such relationships nevertheless violated internal church laws, regulations, custom and discipline. Homosexual relationships were criminal and homosexuality itself was considered to be medically disordered. Those who could have done something about unlawful clerical abuse; and it includes bishops who were/are sexually active; could not risk being exposed for outing clerical perverts.

    • bc says:

      It`s important to note that this report looked at six dioceses in a 70 year window and that the evidence contained in it is substantiated by the Church`s own dossiers. However there are 56 dioceses in Pennsylvania alone. This report is only describing the tip of an iceberg. Prosecutors worldwide are doing the math to estimate the massive scale of clerical abuse in their jurisdictions. And the numbers are very disturbing.

      If you are going to read this report; brace yourself. The Marquis de Sade was an innocent and harmless wannabe compared to the priests named in it. We are talking about some of the most vicious criminals in history, here…
      Every case of clerical abuse is a unique tragedy. And those cases which did not receive the attention of this Grand Jury are no less tragic than the cases exposed in this report. But the victims who testified for this Grand Jury deserve much consideration. Oh… how brave it was of them to testify. As the release of the report was being livestreamed many were there; still ashamed, still crying, after all these years. The adult woman who was an 18 month old infant in diapers when she was raped by a priest was there.

      Pope Francis could have prevented their pain and suffering of having to testify about their ordeals. He could have ordered full disclosure of all dossiers on clerical abuse. Instead the celebrity seeking Pope Francis rehabilitated known and convicted clerical perverts; he supported those who covered-up clerical abuse. And for that, Pope Francis is as guilty as sin. He didn’t change his tune about Chile because clerical abuse was a problem for him. He was reacting to the fact that his visit to Chile drew much less spectators than he was expecting it would. Pictures of empty outdoor fields; small crowds hurt his ego. He had been elected to preserve the future of the Church which in terms of numbers, is in South-America. Victims of clerical abuse never were; are not and shall never be what hurt’s Pope Francis in his heart. Any other head of state would have resigned. Under the regime of this morally disordered public relations stunt of a Pope, for victims of clerical abuse, these will have been lost years.

      • pb says:

        May the Catholic Church go to Hell, if there is even such a place. It has done all it could to ruin my youth. It’s grand time to pay the piper.

  5. MS says:

    A deep swamp. Undrainable.
    Why people still attend their “masses” without demanding answers or are still afraid to even dare to question the clergy, and still support the Vatican, shows how deep the stronghold is on cultic brainwashing. This religion is toxic. So sad. Is the church imploding?

  6. bc says:

    If you spoke with Sylvia your heart would hear in her smoky voice the answer whispering itself to your question.

  7. bc says:

    Consilium habent.
    (i.e. they have a plan.)

    Read about it here:
    http://www.catholicnews.com/services/englishnews/2018/cardinal-dinardo-announces-plan-to-address-moral-catastrophe-of-abuse.cfm

    Non credebant illis.
    (I don’t believe them.)
    De Papa abdicarent.
    (The Pope must resign.)

  8. bc says:

    They have a plan. And they say it’s “only the beginning.”

    http://www.catholicnews.com/services/englishnews/2018/cardinal-dinardo-announces-plan-to-address-moral-catastrophe-of-abuse.cfm

    In effect, they are testifying on the record that nothing real had been done in fact before.

  9. Prima Facie. James Porter Bateman says:

    Today Aug 17/2018, politicians are running from cameras trying to avoid having to make ANY un-rehearsed comment to the media. News anchors ask why. Make NO mistake about it, MANY politicians know the facts and have protected “The Church” forever. I and/others have asserted for decades, that, many politicians, prominent citizens, some Justice Officials, “The Church”, etc conspired and have been party to and/or have knowledge of, organized human trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation. Many of the victims exploited, abused, raped, or whatever word you want to use, were/are young, trusting members of a local Parish. This continues to happen TODAY and it will continue tomorrow.

    • Baspuits says:

      If one can get to the judge in civil suit to hear a victim, before he gets off the seat and say ” your honor, what you allowed here, will continue”!
      What kind of human being would not understand this?

      Baspuits

  10. Mike Mc says:

    I was just listening to Democracy Now with Amy Goodman who interviewed two men…one a priest who was himself sexually abused and the other a victim of abuse. Wow….300 priests and 1000s of victims….in Pennsylvania. So I decided to drop in here after a long absence. I personally think the Church is finished. I know I am finished with the Church. It’s taken me a long time to say this. Done!

  11. Baspuits says:

    The truth hurts: Make no mistake, if you support the Catholic Church, you support the rape and sexual abuse of children.

    Earlier this week the Pennsylvania Supreme Court released a sweeping grand jury report on child sex abuse in the Catholic Church. The report documents the rape and sexual abuse of more than a 1,000 children by more than 300 “predatory priests.

    Even more damning, the report describes in detail the systematic and widespread effort of church leaders to cover-up the crimes, and in so doing church leaders protected and enabled pedophile priests to continue to rape and sexually abuse children.

    The grand jury report explains in great detail that the rape and sexual abuse of children were not isolated incidents, but widespread and systematic, and occurred with the full knowledge and tacit approval of church leaders:

    The abuse was occurring not only by its own people, but on its own property. Children were raped in places of worship, in schools, and in diocesan owned vehicles, and were groomed through diocesan programs and retreats. The bishops weren’t just aware of what was going on; they were immersed in it. And they went to great lengths to keep it secret.
    However, the report does not come as a surprise. In an important sense, the report is old news, and only confirms what everybody learned a long time ago: the Catholic Church is filled with pedophile priests who rape and sexually abuse children with impunity and without fear of punishment from church leaders or secular authorities.

    NPR reports:

    In 2002, The Boston Globe revealed that Catholic authorities in the Boston Archdiocese had engaged in a massive cover-up of sex crimes committed by area priests, and investigations in other parts of the country have since uncovered similar patterns of sexual abuse by members of the Catholic clergy. The ongoing scandals amount to a deepening church crisis.

    In fact, we have known for decades that the Catholic Church was protecting and enabling pedophile priests. We have also known for decades that the church has made considerable efforts to deny the charges, always trying to deny and push accusations under the rug, often by re-victimizing the children raped and sexually abused by priests in the first place.
    Yet despite overwhelming evidence that the Catholic Church is a profoundly and irredeemably morally corrupt institution that allows children to be treated as disposable sex toys for predatory clergy, Catholics continue to support the church. In so doing Catholics fund the cover-up, and make the continuing rape and sexual abuse of children by Catholic clergy possible.

    In short, supporting the Catholic Church means supporting the rape and sexual abuse of children. And that means that every practicing Catholic is complicit in the rape and sexual abuse of children by predatory priests.

    Bottom line: If you support the Catholic Church, you support the rape and sexual abuse of children. Full stop.

    This from : http://www.patheos.com/blogs/progressivesecularhumanist/2018/08/supporting-the-catholic-church-means-supporting-the-rape-and-sexual-abuse-of-children/#xzhiw4GQY5UYkcXC.01

    Baspuits

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