- More than 300 Catholic priests across Pennsylvania had been sexually abusing little boys and girls for over 70 years.
- A thousand children were identified as victims in the investigation, but there are possibly thousands more.
- The Vatican refrained from making any comments about the situation.
More than 300 “predator priests” across Pennsylvania were reportedly sexually abusing children for over 70 years, according to a new grand jury, who got internal documents from the state’s six Catholic dioceses dating back to 1947: Allentown, Erie, Greensburg, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh and Scranton.
The grand jury states, “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. For decades.”
On Tuesday, Attorney General Josh Shapiro said the cover-ups and abuse were reported by other state grand juries and they reviewed the information included in the “secret archives” — referring to the reports that hid the abuse that church leaders did for decades.
The jury report, consisting of 1,400 pages, described the gruesome details of some of the alleged abuse. A boy was raped repeatedly from age 13 to 15 and later suffered from severe spine injuries because of the priest who raped him. The boy later died of an overdose due to painkiller addiction.
In Pittsburgh, priests forced a victim to pose naked on the cross while they photographed him using a Polaroid camera. The report states that because of the cover-up, “almost every instance of abuse we found is too old to be prosecuted.”
In Pennsylvania, victims of child sex abuse have until they reach age 30 to file civil suits and until they are 50 to file criminal charges. The oldest victim who spoke to the grand jury was aged 83.
James VanSickle, 55, recounts the sexual abuse he suffered under the hands of a priest in Erie back in 1981, but because the statute of limitations had passed, the priest was not prosecuted for it.
As he testified before the grand jury, VanSickle said “This is the murder of a soul. We don’t have a statute of limitations on the crime of murder. We don’t go after victims . . . and question their ‘repressed memories’ or ‘recovered memories.”
Many questions now arise about whether high-level church officials could still be covering up their criminal actions.
The grand jury called for a law allowing older victims to file a case against the church for the abuse they’ve suffered as children, in addition to ending such limitations for criminal cases.
The Vatican press office refrained from making any comments to the situation, as the attention is now focused on Pope Francis, with many Catholics waiting on how he would handle this situation of abuse to restore the Catholic Church’s integrity.
Across the country, Pennsylvania is believed to have steered the most number of investigations on child sex abuse.
The recent grand jury report was described by Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro as the “largest, most comprehensive report into child sexual abuse within the Catholic Church ever produced in the United States.”
Source: Fox News