|Attorney General of
For over 40 years (1940s-1980s) hundreds of Pennsylvania children were sexually abused by more than 50 Roman Catholic priests –and the shocking crimes were covered up by bishops. Priests took advantage of these children who felt safe with them. The abusers committed their crimes in campsites, confessionals, in an orphanage and in the cathedral. Children were molested, raped and fated to become adults with lifelong psychological trauma.
The Attorney General of Pennsylvania, #KathleenKane said that the 37th Statewide Investigating Grand jury 147-page report found that former Altoona-Johnstown Diocese Bishop James Hogan and his successor Joseph Adamec protected pedophile priests. Hogan covered up allegations by transferring offending priests, including one who was sent to a boys’ school. Adamec or his staff threatened some victims with excommunication and generally worked harder to hide or settle allegations of abuse than to discipline the priests accused.
"The diocese will not apologize or take responsibility for its dark history," the report said.
Evidence for the report came from a secret diocesan archive opened through a search warrant. Hogan died in 2005 and Adamec cited possible self-incrimination in refusing to testify before the grand jury.
The investigation found that local law enforcement dodged investigating the abuses in the church and that the diocese actually helped select a police chief and fire chief. Kane’s investigation was helped by the FBI’s Critical Incident Response Group and the Behavioral Analysis Unit.
Attorney Kane called the release of the report a “day of reckoning” for abusers and their enablers. The sad fact is that there were no cases filed against the attackers because the statute of limitations (two years) ran out -- making prosecution impossible. Victims are too traumatized to testify or remember what happened to them until it is too late. The grand jury is recommending the complete removal of statutes for future child sexual abuse criminal cases and opening a window of time allowing civil suits for past abuse, as some other states have done. Of the victims, Kane said: "Their souls were killed as children. They weren't out playing baseball; they were trying to avoid priests."
The current bishop, Mark Bartchak, recently suspended a few pedophile priests but the grand jury said it remains "concerned the purge of predators is taking too long."
Parishioners Pay for the “Menu”
American dioceses have paid nearly $4 billion since 1950 to settle claims with victims. We know where this money came from – the pockets of parishioners who thought they were helping with God’s works.
The report found that there was a "payout chart" where victims would receive amounts of money from the church according to the crime committed – a practice found in other dioceses. Is this a menu for the abusers? Victims fondled over their clothes were to be paid $10,000 to $25,000; fondled under their clothes or subjected to masturbation, $15,000 to $40,000; subjected to forced oral sex, $25,000 to $75,000; subjected to forced sodomy or intercourse, $50,000 to $175,000. Can anyone put a price on a child’s life?
An $8 million settlement was awarded to 88 former students of Franciscan Brother Stephen Baker, who abused catholic high school students from 1992 to 2001. Baker killed himself in 2013 after abuse settlements were publicized. A molestation lawsuit against since-defrocked priest Francis Luddy tried in 1994 led to a verdict of more than $2 million in damages and an appeals court finding that Hogan's oversight of pedophile priests had been "outrageous."
How many children could have been saved from a life of misery if these bishops would have acted like the “men of God” that they pretend to be? These child predators could have been criminally prosecuted and locked away. What the grand jury report calls, “soul murder” could have been prevented.
“These findings are both staggering and sobering,” said the grand jury report. “Over many years hundreds of children have fallen victim to child predators wrapped in the authority and integrity of an honorable faith. As wolves disguised as the shepherds themselves — these men stole the innocence of children by sexually preying upon the most innocent and vulnerable .... ”
Bishops: “took actions that further endangered children as they placed their desire to avoid public scandal over the well-being of innocent children,” the report said. “Priests were returned to ministry with full knowledge they were child predators.”
Just like cases in many other dioceses: these bishops tried to discredit the victims – in one case, trying to get the gynecological records of a survivor. They threatened victims, tried to get lawsuits against known criminal clergy dismissed – even after the priest admitted molesting children. There are so many cases that are known and how many are buried so deep that they haven’t yet surfaced?
In 2002, according to the grand jury, Rev. Martin Cingle had groped the genitals of a then-15-year-old boy while sleeping next to the boy on a trip he had taken him on. Bishop Adamec met with Father Cingle, who denied remembering such an event. Adamec sent the priest for what the grand jury said was an insufficient psychological review which was inconclusive. Adamec returned the priest to ministry, where he remained until the grand jury, under threat of perjury got Cingle to admit his guilt. It wasn’t until the Pennsylvania Deputy Attorney General Dye wrote to the current Bishop Bartchak, that the bishop agreed to remove Cingle from the ministry. What was Cingle out there doing for over a decade?
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Dallas ruled in 2002, that any priest should be removed from ministry who committed even a single act of abuse. All talk and worse than no action: the grand jury report said that as late as 2005, the Altoona-Johnstown diocese was hiring private investigators to look for ways to undercut the credibility of an accuser. It was the #BostonGlobe investigations, recently dramatized in the Oscar-winning movie #Spotlight, that provoked the bishops to act like they were doing something to stop the abuse. The tide was rising and the Globe investigation led to revelations of similar cover-ups worldwide. The tide of truth will keep rising until it washes away the agents of evil.
The grand jury is recommending the complete removal of statutes for future child sexual abuse criminal cases and opening a window of time allowing civil suits for past abuse, as some other states have done. Bishop cover up of lying, incurable pedophile priests or some similar mockery of justice has or is happening everywhere the church reaches with its tentacles into the lives of innocent children. Who will stop it? We will – like the victims in #Spotlight we will tell the media the truth and hope they are brave enough to reveal it to the world.