Report, two years in the making, may soon be released
HARRISBURG — A damning report into allegations of decades of child sexual abuse at the hands of clergy members and efforts to cover it up in six of Pennsylvania’s Roman Catholic dioceses is expected to be released in the coming days.
The public disclosure of the findings, the result of an almost two-year grand jury investigation, has been delayed while some of the people named in the report have launched legal challenges, arguing the report is inaccurate and releasing it in its current form would violate their constitutional rights to their reputations and to due process of law.
The state Supreme Court has agreed to consider those claims and scheduled the matter for oral argument in September. In the meantime, the court has ordered identifying information regarding those challenges to be redacted and the nearly 900-page report to be released.
The justices last week appointed a senior jurist, McKean County Judge John Cleland, to serve as a special master who will sort out disputes over what must be blacked out.
The court said if the challengers didn’t object to redactions made by the attorney general’s office, the report would be released by last Wednesday. That date came and went without the report’s release, suggesting there is a behind-the-scenes conflict pending before Cleland.
The court directed Cleland to resolve any redaction disputes and then release the report by 2 p.m. on Tuesday. The justices also warned the lawyers against “provoking or instigating unnecessary ancillary litigation” over producing the redacted version of the report.
What’s in the report
Some details about what’s in the report have been made public, including the disclosure by the state Supreme Court that it will identify more than 300 “predator priests.”
In June, Cambria County Judge Norman Krumenacker, who supervised the grand jury, said the findings involved allegations of child sexual abuse, failure to report it, endangering the welfare of children and obstruction of justice by people “associated with the Roman Catholic Church, local public officials and community leaders.”
The grand jury focused on allegations going back decades in the Allentown, Erie, Greensburg, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh and Scranton dioceses. Previous reports addressed child molestation by priests in the Philadelphia and AltoonaJohnstown dioceses.
Two priests have been charged criminally as a result of the grand jury investigation, but the state’s statute of limitations for child sexual abuse is a barrier that could prevent additional charges, particularly considering that many allegations go back decades.