By: April Carson
Maryland's attorney general released a report on Thursday which found that 158 priests in the Archdiocese of Baltimore have been accused of sexually or physically abusing more than 600 victims over the last 80 years, according to court records.
The Attorney General's office published a 463-page report on their 2019 investigation today.
In Baltimore Circuit Court, he filed a motion requesting to make the report public. Frosh stated to CBS Baltimore on Thursday that release of the report would bring "accountability, change and a sense of justice for the hundreds of victims."
The investigation began after allegations of sexual abuse in the Pennsylvania Catholic Church surfaced in August 2018.
"We can begin to seek justice for the victims by telling the truth about what occurred," Frosh said.
A court's permission is necessary because the report includes data from grand jury subpoenas. It's uncertain when the court will make a determination.
Frosh noted that while it may be uncomfortable to see the results of the investigation, it must happen in order for healing and accountability to take place. "We feel that having this information out there is an essential part of getting at truth and providing some measure of justice," he added.
According to a recent court filing, for years survivors have spoken out about the sexual abuse they faced at the hands of Catholic priests. Unfortunately, rather than protecting its congregations by holding the abusers accountable, the Church chose to cover up these crimes. The Archdiocese of Baltimore is apparently no different.
"Clergy Abuse in Maryland" is a report which not only identifies 115 priests who have been prosecuted for sex abuse, but also those 43 additional priests accused of sexual abuse whom the archdiocese has not yet identified publicly.
The 158 priests included in the report sexually abused and physically tortured their victims, according to the court filing. The Archdiocese's response didn't do enough to address this systematic problem, it added.
Thursday night, Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore released a letter apologizing to "the victim-survivors who were harmed by a minister of the Church." He continued his apology, explaining how others failed them too, writing that he was sorry for "those who failed to protect them, who failed to respond to them with care and compassion and who failed to hold abusers accountable for their sinful and criminal behavior."
"Reading today's motion, we feel immense shame and horror at what was done by people who were meant to protect those entrusted to their care."
The news of the report and numbers of victims is "absolutely horrendous," said David Lorenz, Maryland leader of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.
Lorenz states that the church has lied in the past about the number of abusive priests. According to Lorenz, "Many parishes were dumping grounds for predators, some housed almost ten." Consequently, nobody was safe from abuse. Lastly, he says sadly that this is not unique to any one diocese or secular report in America.
The Archbishop of Baltimore released a statement following the release of this report, saying that he was “sickened by what is detailed in the Report.”
The court filing noted that more than 600 victims were identified; however, the Department of Justice's Annual Crime Victimization Report has demonstrated that most incidents of sexual assault go unreported. It is estimated that there are almost certainly hundreds more victims who have not come forward.
According to the court filing, both boys and girls of all ages were abused. The diocese's own records indicate that more than 150 priests were involved.
The filing said that, although no parish was safe from sexual abuse, some congregations and schools were assigned multiple abusive priests. In one case, a congregation had 11 sexually abusive priests over the course of 40 years.
The rampant sexual abuse was soJJ common that, at times, victims would report the crimes to priests who were already perpetratorsof them.
The goal of the report, Frost said, is to increase public awareness about child abuse so that people will be more likely to report it and help put a stop to it.
"We want to ensure that the church and law enforcement take appropriate action moving forward," Frost said. "It's important for us to make sure that victims are heard in a meaningful way, and that perpetrators of these heinous acts are held accountable."
The investigation also showed that the archdiocese neglected to report lots of allegations of sexual abuse, failed to properly investigate alleged cases of abuse, and allowed abusers access to children instead of removing them from ministry positions.
The filing goes on to state that instead of taking action, the Archdiocese went above and beyond to keep the abuse a secret. For years they reported allegations to police but took active steps to make sure perpetrators would not be held accountable.
Frosh believes that "going public with the Church's wrongdoings is crucial to holding people and organizations accountable so that we can improve our sexual abuse allegations procedures in the future."
The importance of finding and prosecuting the remaining priests "cannot be overstated," the filing said, adding that 30 of the 43 have died.
The filing said that for the priests that have died, the additional secrecy is not as pressing of an issue.
The filing also acknowledged that the church's “longstanding practice of shielding offenders from criminal prosecution has compounded and exacerbated the harm inflicted on survivors”.
The attorney general's office redacted the names of 13 living church officials who have been accused of sexual abuse but not charged or identified as credibility accused by the archdiocese.
In 2019, Frosh initiated a criminal investigation of child sexual abuse by priests and other employees of the Archdiocese of Baltimore. In response to grand jury subpoenas, hundreds of thousands documents were produced that date back to as early as the 1940s.
The attorney general's office set up an email and hotline for people to report information as part of their investigation. Over 300 hundred people contacted the office, with hundreds of interviews conducted with victims and witneses.
The Archdiocese of Baltimore's initial list of accused priests, released in 2019, revealed that more than 150 Catholic clergy had been credibly accused of sexual or physical assault. The list was later amended to include those who were not charged but identified as having credible allegations against them by the archdiocese.
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About the Blogger:
April Carson is the daughter of Billy Carson. She received her bachelor's degree in Social Sciences from Jacksonville University, where she was also on the Women's Basketball team. She now has a successful clothing company that specializes in organic baby clothes and other items. Take a look at their most popular fall fashions on bossbabymav.com
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