STATE – The findings of the grand jury investigation into six Roman Catholic Dioceses in Pennsylvania was released Tuesday – along with the names of roughly 300 priests who victimized more than 1,000 children since the 1940s.
“There have been other reports about child abuse within the Catholic Church. But never on this scale,” states the 884-page grand jury report that investigated dioceses in 54 of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties.
This is “...the most comprehensive report on child sexual abuse within the church ever produced in our country...” Attorney General Josh Shapiro said Tuesday.
“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.”
The investigation included, “...the testimony of dozens of witnesses concerning clergy sex abuse.
“We subpoenaed, and reviewed, half a million pages of internal diocesan documents,” the report states.
Those documents contained “...credible allegations against over three hundred predator priests. Over one thousand child victims were identifiable, from the church’s own records.”
In the report, the grand jury made the following findings:
• 301 Catholic priests identified as predator priests who sexually abused children while serving in active ministry in the church.
• Detailed accounts of over 1,000 children victimized sexually by predator priests, with the grand jury noting it believed the real number of victims was in the “thousands.”
• Senior church officials, including bishops, monsignors and others, knew about the abuse committed by priests, but routinely covered it up to avoid scandal, criminal charges against priests, and monetary damages to the dioceses.
• Priests committed acts of sexual abuse upon children, and were routinely shuttled to other parishes – while parishioners were left unaware of sexual predators in their midst.
The report states the Diocese of Scranton – which includes Lackawanna, Luzerne, Bradford, Susquehanna, Wayne, Tioga, Sullivan, Wyoming, Lycoming, Pike and Monroe Counties – has “...59 predator priests named.”
According to the Attorney General, “...one priest, Thomas Skotek, raped a young girl, got her pregnant, and arranged an abortion.
“The Bishop, James Timlin, expressed his feelings in a letter: ‘This is a very difficult time in your life, and I realize how upset you are. I too share your grief.’ The bishop’s letter was not sent to the girl.
“It was addressed to the rapist.”
These complaints “... were kept locked up in a ‘secret archive,’” that only the bishop could access.
Diocese of Scranton response
In response to the report, the Diocese of Scranton released the following statement that reads, in part:
“As the community copes with the findings in this report, Bishop Bambera offers his deepest apolo- gies to the victims who have suffered because of past actions and decisions made by trusted clergymen, to victims’ families, to the faithful of the Church, and to the community at large.
“No one deserves to be confronted with the behaviors described in the report.
“Although painful to acknowledge, it is necessary to address such abuse in order to foster a time when no child is abused and no abuser is protected.”
The statement adds that the Diocese fully cooper- ated with the grand jury “...because of its firm belief that child sexual abuse cannot be tolerated and must be eradicated from the Church.”
Bishop Bambera also “... released the list of all of the accused clergy, staff and volunteers within the Diocese of Scranton,” which is found on www.dioceseofscranton.org.
The grand jury made recommendations to potential changes in state law to aid victims of sexual assault.
The first is to “eliminate the criminal statute of limitations for sexually abusing children.”
At this time, law “... permits victims to come forward until age 50.”
The grand jury “...recommends eliminating the criminal statute of limitation for such crimes.”
The grand jury also asks that a “civil window” be created to allow older victims to due for damages.
Current law gives victims of child abuse “...12 years to sue, once they turn 18.”
If the victim is over age 30, “...they only get two years.”
The grand jury also wishes for clearer penalties for continuing failure to report child abuse.
This new language “... imposes a continuing obligation to report ‘while the person knows or has reasonable cause to believe the abuser is likely to commit additional acts of child abuse.’”
Another recommendation asks the Civil Confidentiality Agreements “...not cover communications with law enforcement.”
In the report, the grand jury found “...that the Church used confidentiality agreements as a way to silence abuse victims speaking publicly or cooperating with law enforcement.
“The agreement prevents a victim from talking to police.
“Additionally, future agreements should state contact with police about criminal activity is permitted.”
Offenders identified by the grand jury
The grand jury stated, “Many of the priests who we profile here are dead.
“We decided it was crucial to include them anyway, because we sus- pect that many of their victims may still be alive – including unreported victims who may have thought they were the only one.
“Those victims deserve to know they were not alone.
“It was not their fault.”
The following is the list of offenders in the Diocese of Scranton identified by the grand jury report in alphabetical order.
• Philip A. Altavilla
• Girard F. Angelo
• Mark G. Balczeniuk
• Joseph P. Bonner
• Martin M. Boylan
• Robert J. Braque
• Francis T. Brennan
• Joseph W. Bucolo
• Gerald J. Burns
• Robert N. Caparelli
• Anthony P. Conmy
• J. Peter Crynes
• Raymond L. Deviney
•Donald J. Dorsey
• John M. Duggan
• John J. Dzurko
• James F. Farry
• James F. Fedor
• Ralph N. Ferraldo
• Angelus Ferrara
• Austin E. Flanagan
• Joseph D. Flannery
• Martin J. Fleming
• Robert J. Gibson
• Joseph G. Gilgallon
• Joseph A. Griffin
• Joseph T. Hammond
• P. Lawrence Homer
• Mark A. Honart
• Joseph F. Houston
• Francis G. Kulig
• Albert M. Libertore, Jr.
• John A. Madaj
• James M. McAuliffe
• Neil McLaughlin
• Joseph F. Meighan
• Russell E. Motsay
• James F. Nolan
• W. Jeffrey Paulish
• John A. Pender
• Mark T. Rossetti
• Edward J. Shoback
• Thomas P. Shoback
• Thomas D. Skotek
• John J. Tamalis
• Virgil B. Thetherow
• Robert M. Timchak
• Lawrence P. Weniger
• Joseph B. Wilson
Society of St. John
• Christopher R. Clay
• Eric S. Ensey
• Carlos Urrutigoity
• Benedict J. Van Der Putten
To view the complete report, visit https://www. attorneygeneral.gov/ report/.
The Office of the Attorney General clergy abuse hot- line is 1-888-538-8541.
— Information from the grand jury report and a release from the Office of the Attorney General was used in this story.