Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced the PA Supreme Court’s decision to release a grand jury report Tuesday after two years of heated contention and legal debates in the court system, but no Bucks County priest or Church is included in the report.
The first part of the report is 884 pages and accuses more than 300 priests throughout Pennsylvania. It details more than 1000 child victims in cases the church attempted to cover up. Most accusations go back decades and even date back to 1965.
Pennsylvania is divided into eight diocese, and priests from six of those are implicated in the abuse. Philadelphia’s ecclesiastical province includes the Archdioceses, along with Bucks, Montgomery, Chester, and Delaware counties. Not a single priest from any church within Philadelphia’s province is named in the grand jury’s report.
“2 yrs of investigating, a grand jury, 300+ sexually abusive priests & 1,000+ children who carry the burden as Survivors,” Shapiro tweeted. “For too long, the Church has shielded pedophiles, pushing their victims into the shadows. No longer. Today, we publish the truth.”
“Many of the priests who we profile here are dead,” the report reads. “We decided it was crucial to include them anyway, because we suspect that many of their victims may still be alive – including unreported victims who may have thought they were the only one.”
The grand jury combed through more than half a million pages of documents intended for the church’s internal use and found alleged cover-ups including a priest admitting to molesting boys, but denying sexually assaulting girls. Another was unable to speak to individual cases because of the frequency of his assaults.
The second half of the report is more than 400 pages of the church’s response. It opens with Allentown’s Bishop Schlerts’ commendation of the efforts of the grand jury and AG Shapiro.
“It is only by confronting and understanding that we, as a Church and as a Commonwealth, can begin to heal and move forward toward a goal that we all share: The elimination of child abuse wherever it may occur in society,” Schlerts’ response reads.