The Boston Globe investigation into widespread abuse in the Boston Catholic Diocese in 2002 launched reports of abuse across the country and calls for reform of the church.
In Pennsylvania, the major investigations started in Philadelphia.
2005 – Philadelphia’s district attorney’s office released a grand jury report into allegations against more than 100 priests and clergy. The report criticized internal practices of moving accused priests to different parishes.
- List of alleged predator priests in Pittsburgh and Greensburgh Diocese
2011 – A second grand jury investigation was launched to see if practices within the diocese had changed. This time, several priests and clergy members were charged with crimes related to child sexual abuse.
2016 – The Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office released the results of a grand jury investigation into its least-populated diocese: Altoona-Johnstown. That report detailed allegations from hundreds of children across decades. Dozens of priests and clergy members were named. Following the report, the attorney general’s office was flooded with calls from people alleging abuse at churches and schools. That triggered an investigation into the remaining six dioceses across the state.
2018 – On Aug. 14, a more than 900-page grand jury report on six Pennsylvania dioceses -- Allentown, Erie, Greensburg, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh and Scranton -- was released by the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office. It identified 301 priests accused of sexual abuse and revealed that there were more than 1,000 child victims.
“We should emphasize that, while the list of priests is long, we don't think we got them all. We feel certain that many victims never came forward, and that the dioceses did not create written records every single time they heard something about abuse,” the grand jury report said.
According to Attorney General Josh Shapiro, the grand jury reviewed more than 500,000 pages of documents, including many from the dioceses themselves that outlined the coverup and “secret archives” about the abuse.
One story from the report focused on a ring of predatory priests with the Diocese of Pittsburgh who allegedly shared information on victims and exchanged the victims among themselves, the report said.
The grand jury report suggested a series of law changes that would help survivors of previous church sex abuse and all sex abuse moving forward. The recommendations included creating a 2-year civil complaint window for existing victims, removing the statute of limitations for criminal investigations, stronger laws around reporting abuse and requiring specific language in non-disclosure agreements.
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