Redacted names in church sex abuse grand jury report could soon be made public

PHILADELPHIA — Redacted names contained in the grand jury report into clergy sex abuse across Pennsylvania could be one step closer to being made public.

In Philadelphia on Wednesday, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court heard arguments from the petitioners and the attorney general's office over releasing the names.

“We tried to get across to the court the importance of the grand jury process and the reporting process and the need for this whole report to come out," said Deputy Attorney General Ronald Eisenberg.

The petitioners are believed to be linked to either the Catholic church or the priests whose names were redacted from the report. However, attorneys for the petitioners declined to say exactly who they are representing.

During the hearing, those attorneys argued releasing the names would only be done to shame, adding it's unwarranted since the Pennsylvania House of Representatives already passed recommendations by the grand jury to overhaul the statute of limitations.

"You're asking us to revise legislation, not interpret the Constitution,” said Justice David Wecht during the hearing. “I don't understand the need to fight over these two dozen people."

The petitioners also argued over the reputational damage to priests who would not be charged or sued. It's a notion Justice Max Baer questioned.

"The average Pennsylvanian can't name five priests implicated,” Justice Baer said. “They're not (Bill) Cosby or (Jerry) Sandusky."

In all, 301 current and former priests were named in the grand jury report released last month.

The names of 30 priests and allegations against them were redacted due to ongoing litigation.