After two years in the making, the Grand Jury has released a 884-page detailed report of child sex abusers within the church community of Pennsylvania, spanning six different diocese with incidents going back over seven decades. This is the biggest effort to ever be put into child sex abuse investigation in regards to Catholic churches and their members.
“Today, the most comprehensive report on child sexual abuse within the church ever produced in our country was released,” Attorney General Josh Shapiro said. “Pennsylvanians can finally learn the extent of sexual abuse in these dioceses. For the first time, we can all begin to understand the systematic cover up by church leaders that followed. The abuse scarred every diocese. The cover up was sophisticated. The church protected the institution at all costs.”
Grand jurors advise Americans to prepare themselves before reading due to its large list of disturbing child sex abuse incidents and other overwhelming content.
There are literally hundreds of priests and other Catholic church representatives who have been named as child predators and dangerous. On this list included several convicted priests from Pittsburgh including: Father Robert Wolk of St. Thomas More in Bethel Park; Father Richard Zula of Saints Mary and Ann in Marianna, Washington County, and Father Richard Dorsch, convicted of sexually assaulting a 13-year-old boy in North Park
Huge Efforts Were Put into Hiding the Ongoing Child Sex Abuse
Despite the overwhelming presence of sexual crime within the church community, bishops and other church leaders would rather protect the Catholic church reputation than the children of their churches.
The report stated, “Diocesan administrators, including the Bishops, had knowledge of this conduct and yet priests were regularly placed in ministry after the Diocese was on notice that a complaint of child sexual abuse had been made. This conduct enabled offenders and endangered the welfare of children.”
Bishops were also noted to have often dissuaded victims from reporting abuse, pressuring law enforcement not to take action, or conducting their own biased investigations in a way that would protect the church’s crimes from public knowledge. An example of this is Fr. Raymond Lukac who impregnated a 17-year-old girl, forged a pastor’s signature on a marriage certificate, then divorced her after she gave birth. Despite these heinous crimes and breaking his vows as a priest of the Catholic church, he was allowed to stay in the church community and moved him to a new state to be hidden from the public eye.
The Detailed List of Incidents is Long and Shocking
Many perversions were discovered in the church community and are noted in the report. One fact that was discovered is that church officials would mark boys they were targettings by giving them a gold cross to wear. Essentially certain boys were primed for sexual misconduct, often priests and other officials would commit illegal sexual acts and work as a group to accomplish it.
One boy that was marked was forced to strip down and pose against a cross in a private room. Priests then photographed the child and distributed the photos to many Catholic leaders on church grounds. Although mostly young men were targeted, young girls were far from free from the crimes occurring. One anonymous female that was interviewed stated, “He always had his hands on me.”
Reform of the Catholic Church to Prevent Perversions
It is important to note that 90% of the child sex abuse incidents occured before 1990. The Catholic church has apparently been making many efforts to fight against the child sex crimes occuring behind closed doors, which started back when Donald Wuerl defied the Vatican in 1993 and refused to reassign a proven pedophilc preist named Anthony Cipolla.
In light of this, Mr. Wuerll’s reputation has also come under fire. He fought the negative opinions forming about him and recently stated, “As I have made clear throughout my more than 30 years as a bishop, the sexual abuse of children by some members of the Catholic Church is a terrible tragedy, and the Church can never express enough our deep sorrow and contrition for the abuse, and for the failure to respond promptly and completely. While I understand this Report may be critical of some of my actions, I believe the Report confirms that I acted with diligence, with concern for the victims and to prevent future acts of abuse.”
It is also important to note that 90/301 named pedophiles were in the Pittsburgh diocese alone. This comes as a shock to many, as this location was considered a leader in the Catholic church reforms in regards to child sex abuse prevention.
Grand Jury Creates a List of Church Reform Recommendations
After the release of this long and detailed report, the Grand Jury felt it important to discuss and detail ideas to fight pedphilic crimes and prevent future travesties. This has been going on for decades at discomforting rates, and something needs to change.
The following recommendations were officially released by the Grand Jury:
- Eliminate the criminal statute of limitations for sexually abusing children
- Create a two-year “civil window” for child sex abuse victims who couldn’t file lawsuits before
- Clarify the penalties for a continuing failure to report child abuse
- Prohibit “non-disclosure” agreements regarding cooperation with law enforcement
Victims Get Justice After Suffering Sexual Abuse by Hiring a Quality Pittsburgh Personal Injury Attorney
Many of these victims of the Catholic priests can no longer receive the justice they deserve due to the statute of limitations placed upon sex crimes. Although in time, we hope such statutes will be removed, we can still help many sexual assault and child sex abuse victims. Mark Smith treats each sexual assault victim with respect and understanding, while fighting with everything at his disposal to bring sex criminals to justice. Hire a professional lawyer today who will fight for you and your rights that have been violated. Call the Law Office of Mark Smith today at 412-368-8398 or contact them online for a free initial consultation and the legal support you need.