Pennsylvania’s attorney general accused clergy mentioned in a sex abuse report of trying to stall its release and alter it to hide their alleged misdeeds.
Lawyers for current and retired priests mentioned in the report filed legal challenges against its release, alleging that it violated state constitutional law. They argued that the priests should be allowed to present their own testimonies and evidence before the grand jury that compiled the report and to have their entries in the report rewritten to reflect their testimonies. (RELATED: Sisters Try To Break Silence On Clergy Sex Abuse)
State Attorney General Josh Shapiro filed to the Supreme Court in support of the report’s swift release, arguing that delaying its release undermined public confidence in the judicial system and protected clergy from having their wrongdoings exposed.
“Hundreds of victims, thousands of parishioners and many members of the community are awaiting the report,” Shapiro wrote in the filing, according to Crux Now. “The longer it is held, the greater the risk of undermining public confidence in the judicial system.”
Shapiro added that the priests’ attempts to change the report and delay its release were “nothing more than a desperate attempt to stop the public from learning the truth about their abhorrent conduct.”
The unnamed priests claimed the report contained several errors and that many of the assertions against them were not backed up by sufficient evidence.
“The gross mischaracterizations, oversimplifications and outright erroneous conclusions in the report that violate the Investigative Grand Jury Act and constitutional due process must be corrected before the report is released to the public,” lawyers for the nearly two dozen challengers said, according to Crux.
The judge who supervised the grand jury’s two-year investigation and the resulting report ordered the release of the report in June, but the state Supreme Court delayed it, citing the constitutional challenges against the report. The challengers assert the report violates reputational rights guaranteed in Pennsylvania’s constitution.
The grand jury based its report on its two-year investigation of instances of abuse, failure to report abuse and obstruction of justice related to instances of abuse in six Pennsylvania dioceses.
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