Six Catholic Dioceses in Pennsylvania are the subject of a two-year grand jury probe into decades of sexual misconduct by over 300 Catholic priests. The 900-page report is expected to contain details of widespread abuse by priest over many decades and efforts by church leaders to conceal and protect the abusive priests. The probe involved dozens of witnesses and more than half a million pages of internal church documents.
At the the conclusion of the probe, the Diocese fought and lobbied to keep the Grand Jury report confidential to conceal the wrongdoing from publicly exposed. Bishop Lawrence Persico of the Diocese of Erie last week warned that the report would be graphic and implicate high-ranking church officials. Victims and their advocates who argued for the public release are now rejoicing that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued a non-negotiable deadline to release the findings of an 18-month-long investigation into clergy sex abuse. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court justices said the report on clergy child sexual abuse going back decades and allegations of cover-up efforts will be made public but without the names or “individual specific information” of priests and others who have challenged the findings, at least in the initial version to be released. The Court wants the redaction process to be completed by Aug. 8, when the 900-page report is expected to be made public. If there are disputes about what a court-appointed special master should black out, the report will go out the following week.
The grand jury investigation looked into six of the eight dioceses covering Pennsylvania: Allentown, Erie, Greensburg, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh and Scranton. The Archdiocese of Philadelphia and Diocese of Allentown-Johnstown are not part of the probe as they were the subject of prior Grand Jury reports. Both of those investigations revealed widespread sexual abuse priests in those Dioceses.