'Spotlight' Reporter on PA Clergy Sex Abuse Scandal: It's a 'Systemic Problem'

More than 300 Pennsylvania priests committed sexual abuse over decades

That is according to a lengthy Pennsylvania grand jury report released Tuesday, which had been in the making for two years.

This is the kind of lifelong trauma endured by hundreds of victims at the hands of Pennsylvania priests. This cover-up involved church leaders persuading both the victims and police not to report the abuse.

To redact or not to redact?

The Grand Jury investigation found that, "despite (Bishop Donald) Wuerl's summary of the serious and criminal nature of the problem to the Vatican, Diocesan records revealed that Wuerl granted Paone' s request to be reassigned again on October 22, 1991". One minister sought to block the release of his medical information in the report, which he said would be a violation of doctor-patient privilege.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court had ordered release of the report after a judge decided on redactions.

Like Shapiro, members of the grand jury felt that it was important for the public to know the names of the alleged abusers and those complicit in the cover-ups. "We are going to shine a light on their conduct, because that is what the victims deserve".

The report is filled with horrendous accounts of abuse. "With the timeliness of this report and its findings, the statute of limitations bill passed by the Senate is primed for discussion in the House".

Malcolm Yarnell, a Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary professor who has written on Roman Catholicism, told BP the Catholic hierarchy may have "fostered an environment for abuse", and "the Roman church's extra-biblical and supra-local governing structure bears some responsibility for covering up such evil".

The debate over these provisions is not new.

"You either support victims or you support pedophiles", Rozzi said.

A news release announcing Greear's sexual abuse study group July 26, formed in partnership with the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, said the group's objective "will be to consider how Southern Baptists at every level can take discernable action to respond swiftly and compassionately to incidents of abuse, as well as to foster safe environments within churches and institutions".

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The report also calls for stricter requirements for when the church must report allegations of child sexual abuse.

"What we want to do is to find out who the hidden child predators are", said Hamilton, who is also a professor of religion and law at the University of Pennsylvania.

Its final proposal focused on the role of confidentiality agreements in criminal investigations. However, the grand jury has strongly suggested opening a temporary "window" that would allow older victims in this case to file civil lawsuits.

"If this doesnt start a serious debate on the elimination of the statute of limitation, theres something seriously wrong with my fellow Pennsylvanians", said Shaun Dougherty, 48, who testified before the Altoona-Johnstown grand jury about being abused by a priest for three years starting at age 10.

"I had gone to two bishops with allegations over five years, and they ignored and downplayed my allegations", said the Rev. James Faluszczak, an Erie priest on extended leave who was abused as a child and who testified before the grand jury.

While most men on the Harrisburg list are accused of sexually abusing children, others were investigated for inappropriate behavior, such as kissing or inappropriately communicating with a minor, Gainer wrote. One has already pleaded guilty, according to USA Today.

Shapiro filed charges against Poulson in May, accusing him of abusing two young boys for years in the early 2000s.

"We learned of these abusers directly from their dioceses - which we hope is a sign that the church is finally changing its ways", the grand jurors said. "The first erection that you have is at the hands of a priest". Lennon specifically addressed practicing Catholics, telling them to believe victims when they come forward.

The six dioceses named in the report issued individual statements after the release of the report.

At times, the lengthy catalog of clergy sexual abuses in the report is hard to read.

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