Several hundred Roman Catholic priests in Pennsylvania were accused of sexually abusing more than a thousand children, a grand jury report on Tuesday said, in an alleged “cover-up” the state’s attorney general described as “sophisticated.”
Over the course of a two-year investigation, launched by Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro’s office, a grand jury heard several witness statements and pored over documents from six dioceses in the state.
Those dioceses included Allentown, Erie, Greensburg, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh and Scranton. Upwards of 300 “predator priests” stand accused of the decades-long abuse, the report said.
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“The cover-up was sophisticated. And all the while, shockingly, church leadership kept records of the abuse and the cover-up,” Shapiro said at a news conference.
“These documents, from the dioceses’ own ‘Secret Archives,’ formed the backbone of this investigation.”
It’s possible that the “real number” of abused children could be “in the thousands” due to missing records of other victims who feared speaking about the allegations, according to the grand jury’s report.
The PA report is disgusting and stomach-churning. And mentioned more than 200 times is @Cardinal_Wuerl , who currently resides in his luxury DC penthouse. He is @Pontifex 's man in Washington, and only @Pontifex can get rid of him. Get to work, Francis. https://t.co/z6rWhAmy3e
— Patricia Heaton (@PatriciaHeaton) August 15, 2018
In order to prevent the Catholic Church from suffering bad publicity or financial liability, the panel claimed that a series of bishops and other diocesan leaders attempted to hide the alleged abuse.
The report faulted Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the former longtime bishop of Pittsburgh who currently leads the Washington archdiocese, for what it said was his part in the concealment of clergy sexual abuse.
Wuerl defended himself, releasing a statement Tuesday that said he had “acted with diligence, with concern for the victims and to prevent future acts of abuse.”
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