On Tuesday, an extensive report from a two-year grand jury investigation into widespread sexual abuse and coverups in the Catholic Church was released. Attorney General Josh Shapiro held a lengthy news conference afterward where he reviewed the findings.
Below are 11 things you need to know about the report:
1) Overall Scope
While the grand jury investigation took about 2 years to complete, the history of alleged abuse dates back more than five decades. Because there have already been investigations in the Philadelphia and Johnstown-Altoona dioceses, this grand jury focused on the six other dioceses in Pennsylvania. Below is a list of each diocese and the number of alleged offenders the grand jury heard testimony about.
- Diocese of Allentown – 37 offenders
- Diocese of Erie – 41 offenders
- Diocese of Greensburg – 20 offenders
- Diocese of Harrisburg – 45 offenders
- Diocese of Pittsburgh - 99 offenders
- Diocese of Scranton – 59 offenders
2) The Survivors
During the grand jury's investigation, more than 1,000 child sex abuse victims were identified, but there are believed to be many more than that.
Channel 11's Rick Earle spoke to Johnny Hewko, a catholic church sex abuse survivor from Beaver County who said he's relieved and vindicated by the report.
"To me, it's not just predators, it's a massacre of these kids' innocence. My innocence," Hewko said.
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.
Since then, grand juries have investigated sexual abuse in the Philadelphia and Johnstown-Altoona dioceses, with dozens of priests being named in each report.
This latest investigation began in 2016 and was completed earlier this year.
4) Child pornography ring
One story from this report focuses on a ring of predatory priests with the Pittsburgh Diocese who allegedly shared information on victims and exchanged the victims among themselves, the report said. The priests used whips, violence and sadism in raping their victims, the report said.
According to the report, the priests also manufactured child pornography on diocesan property, including parishes and rectories.
5) What to do if you’re a victim
We want to make sure you know where to reach out if you are a survivor of abuse.
- Childline: 1-800-932-0313
- Pittsburgh Diocese Abuse Hotline: 1-888-808-1235
- SNAP Support Line: 1-877-762-7432
- Pa. Attorney General's Office Hotline: 888-538-8541
- Pittsburgh Action Against Rape - 1 866 363 2773
6) Parishioners Respond
Across Pennsylvania and the country there have been strong responses to allegations of abuse within the Catholic church. While reactions range from rage and anger to forgiveness, one universality is the prayers for victims of child sex abuse at the hands of church leaders.
7) Church Leaders Respond
Bishop David Zubik, the head of the Pittsburgh Diocese, spoke several hours after the report was released Tuesday and apologized for all of the harm caused by priests toward the survivors and other members of the church.
In contradiction to the report, however, Zubik said there was no coverup of the abuse.
"There was no cover up going on… We have been transparent,” he said.
8) SNAP response
The Survivors Network, released the following statement regarding the redacted grand jury report.
SNAP commends all those brave victims who came forward and shared their heartbreaking truths. Without their great courage, this day would not have been possible. We also applaud Attorney General Josh Shapiro, who fought so hard to insure that those truths would be made public.
After reviewing the entire document, Judy Jones, Becky Ianni and I will be holding media events in the six dioceses covered in the report (Allentown, Erie, Greensburg, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, and Scranton) to highlight the findings on Monday, August 13th or Tuesday, August 14th.
9) Grand Jury Recommendations
The grand jury report concluded that many of the allegations are too old for criminal prosecution, but suggested possible law changes that would help survivors of previous church sex abuse and all sex abuse moving forward.
The recommendations include 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.
10) Read More
The full grand jury report is more than 900 pages long and includes detailed stories from survivors, as well as an in-depth look into each dioceses involved.
We've posted the full Catholic church sex abuse grand jury report on our website for anyone to read.
11) What’s Next
Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro said that this investigation into Catholic church sex abuse is still "active and on-going" despite the release of the grand jury report.
Channel 11 will continue to follow the fallout from this massive report as well as any and all developments that may occur.
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