301 'Predator Priests' Accused of Abuse In Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report

By RJ Johnson - @rickerthewriter

August 15, 2018

Several decades worth of child abuse allegations against more than 300 accused "predator priests" and claims the Roman Cathlolic Church leaders covered up the crimes and obstructed justice to avoid scandal were among some of the things revealed in a report released by a Pennsylvania grand jury on Tuesday

The report said more than 1,000 child victims were identified using the church's own records. 

"We believe that the real number - of children whose records were lost, or who were afraid ever to come forward - is in the thousands," the grand jury said.

At a news conference in Harrisburg on Tuesday, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro released the 884-page report in accordance with a deadline set by the state's Supreme Court. 

"Today, Pennsylvanians can learn the extent of sexual abuse in the dioceses and for the first time we can begin to understand the systematic cover up by church leaders that followed," Shapiro said 

Some of the names of the accused clergy were temporarily redacted in the report. 

"Let me be very clear - my office is not satisfied with the release of a redacted report," he added. "Every redaction represents an incomplete story of abuse that deserves to be told."

Some of the grand jury's findings released in the report included: 

  • 301 Catholic priests identified as predator priests who sexually abused children while serving in active ministry in the church.
  • Detailed accounts of over 1,000 children victimized sexually by predator priests, with the grand jury noting it believed the real number of victims was in the “thousands.”
  • Senior church officials, including bishops, monsignors and others, knew about the abuse committed by priests, but routinely covered it up to avoid scandal, criminal charges against priests, and monetary damages to the dioceses.
  • Priests committed acts of sexual abuse upon children, and were routinely shuttled to other parishes – while parishioners were left unaware of sexual predators in their midst.

"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," the report said.

Shapiro told reporters on Tuesday the report showed senior church officials in Pennsylvania and the Vatican were engaged in a "systematic cover up." Abuse complaints were kept in the church's 'secret archive' with church officials working to cover-up incidents and failing to report the allegations to law enforcement. 

"The abuse scarred every diocese, the cover-up was sophisticated," he said.

Three victims also offered testimony in a video played before the news conference. Shaun Dougherty, now 48, says the effect the abuse has on a person's life never goes away. 

"This has absolutely destroyed me," he added. 

The report was the result of a nearly two-year long investigation into the Allentown, Erie, Greensburg, Harrisburg, Pittsburg and Scranton dioceses. Some of the dioceses released names of clergy members accused of child abuse who were named in the report before Tuesday's press conference. 

In a statement provided to NBC news, an attorney for the Dioceses of Harrisburg and Greenburg, said:

“The Dioceses I’ve gotten to know so well over the past two years are incredibly sorry for the harm to these survivors.

"But the Catholic Church discussed in the grand jury report no longer exists, and hasn’t existed for a long time," lawyer Matt Haverstick said. "Today’s Church has listened and learned from its mistakes, and its reforms over the past two decades keep children safe."

Photo: Getty Images

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