State’s Massive Report On Church Sex Abuse Withheld After Those Cited Within Challenge Its Release
Pennsylvania’s state Supreme Court withheld a report on church sexual abuse because “many individuals” named in the report filed challenges against it.
The court issued a five-page opinion Monday, saying individuals cited in the grand jury report, which covers instances of abuse in six dioceses, challenged the public release of the report on the grounds that it violates their state-guaranteed reputational rights and that they were not made aware of the grand jury’s proceedings. Neither the attorney general’s office nor the state prosecutors’ office objected to a brief hold on the publication of the report, though prosecutors did object to an indefinite hold. (RELATED: Investigator Finds Church Of England’s 2010 Sex Abuse Inquiry Was ‘Deeply Flawed’ And ‘Failed’)
“While we did not oppose giving the court a matter of days to conduct a careful review and promptly rule on these motions, that time is quickly expiring,” said Joe Grace, spokesman for Democratic Attorney General Josh Shapiro, according to The Associated Press.
A grand jury compiled the report over a period of two years, investigating instances of sexual abuse by clergy in the dioceses of Allentown, Erie, Greensburg, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh and Scranton. Judge Norman Krumenacker, the Cambria County-based grand jury supervisory judge, told AP that jurors poured over thousands of pages of internal church documents and interviewed many witnesses to investigate instances of child sexual abuse, cases where church officials failed to report such instances to the police, and related claims of obstruction of justice. The area which the report covers is home to about 1.7 million members of the Catholic church.
Those cited in the report who filed challenges against it claimed that they have a right to address the grand jury according to their state constitution.
Justices of the court said they needed to address the constitutional challenges that those cited in the report have made before they can allow the report to be released.
“A number of the petitioners asserted that they were not aware of, or allowed to appear at, the proceedings before the grand jury,” the court opinion reads.
“The court intends to revisit the stay order when the proceedings before it have advanced to a stage at which either the petitions for review can be resolved, or an informed and fair determination can be made as to whether a continued stay is warranted,” the opinion adds.
Victim advocates claim that the report is the most comprehensive of its kind ever compiled by any state.
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