Grand jury hears testimony about alleged abuse in Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh

Grand jury hears testimony about alleged abuse in Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh

PITTSBURGH — A grand jury has been meeting behind closed doors about sexual abuse allegations in the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh.

Jurors heard testimony on Tuesday during the secret proceedings about cases that could date back 70 years.

Target 11’s Rick Earle learned one man who testified claims that he was abused by a priest and nun. Earle previously spoke with Johnny Hewko about the allegations.

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Hewko said he was abused over a nearly three-year span of time.

“I'd have to say, on average, maybe once a week would be around right,” he told Earle in February.

According to Hewko, the abuse occurred in the ‘70s at Saints Peter and Paul Church in Beaver. He stayed silent for years before going to church leaders in 2009.

The diocese said it referred the case to the Beaver County District Attorney, who said there was nothing that could be done because the statute of limitations had expired.

Last year, however, the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office launched an investigation into the diocese, and Hewko received a subpoena to testify before the grand jury.

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After testifying Tuesday, Hewko is under a court order to not talk about the proceedings.

“The grand jury is extremely secretive. If you are a witness and you go in front of the grand jury, you may not speak about the substantive, the procedural, anything that has to do with it,” Channel 11 legal analyst Phil Dilucente said.

The diocese confirmed in September that the attorney general had subpoenaed records dating back to the 1940s.

When the diocese first received the subpoena, Pittsburgh Bishop David Zubik said he welcomed the review and would work with the Attorney General’s Office.

Dilucente said the grand jury won’t rush to judgment.

“One thing about grand juries, they are methodical and they are not expedited for any reason other than to get to the truth,” Dilucente said.