An abuse survivor from Beaver County is reacting to the release of a grand jury report, detailing sexual abuse allegations against clergy from six Pennsylvania Catholic dioceses, including Pittsburgh.
Tuesday was a vindicating day for Johnny Hewko.
The Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh never confirmed the abuse against him, but the grand jury report clearly documented the allegations and named the priest.
"I waited a long time," Hewko said. "I'm relieved. This is the start now."
Hewko's graphic testimony appeared in the grand jury report, where he talked about how he was sexually abused in the 1970s at St. Peter and Paul in Beaver by Monsignor Raymond Schultz, who is now deceased.
The testimony also details how Hewko went to the Pittsburgh Diocese in 2010 and was offered money for counseling and college tuition for his children. He declined it, because it would have barred him from talking about the abuse.
"To me, it's not just predators, it's a massacre of these kids' innocence. My innocence," Hewko said.
The diocese forwarded the allegations to the Beaver County District Attorney's Office, which did not investigate because the statute of limitations has expired.
Hewko also accused a nun of abuse, but there is no mention of her name in the grand jury report.
At least one page of Hewko's testimony has been redacted.
Hewko told Channel 11 this is the first step of the healing process.
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"For the first time I can speak publicly without any type of repercussion lawsuit," said Tim Bendig, who claims Father Anthony Cipolla sexually abused him for several years, starting when he was 11- or 12-years-old.
"I started recognizing that this is uncomfortable, that this is not right and I was threatened by him. God would not like me anymore, I would not get to Heaven."
According to the grand jury report, three victims came forward alleging abuse by Cipolla, who died in 2016. Victims testified Cipolla would "give physicals, telling them he was a missionary doctor."
Police were informed of the allegations against Cipolla, according to the grand jury report.
Bendig eventually settled with the Catholic church, but now that the report is out, he's hoping leaders who turned a blind eye are held accountable moving forward.
Bendig said he holds no ill will against the Catholic church or his faith.
"I want to be angry," Bendig said. "I soul searched. I even forgive the perpetrator that molested me. Over the years I have forgiven him, why not the church?"
Bendig told Channel 11 he has not spoken with Bishop Zubik yet, but he hopes to. He said he wants to help bring about change in the Catholic church.
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