Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Timing is everything in Pennsylvania’s clergy sexual abuse report


Timing is everything in Pennsylvania’s clergy sexual abuse report

COLUMBIA (MO)
Religion News Service
August 7, 2018
By Thomas Reese SJ
After a monthlong challenge by a few of those named in the document, Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court has approved the release of a grand jury’s report on sexual abuse of minors in six Catholic dioceses across the state. The grand jury, convened in 2016, considered the cases of some 300 priests accused of being predators, as well as bishops accused of covering up the crimes.
The report, expected to be released any day, is not going to be an easy read, and at 900 pages will contain more information than many have time to digest.
Here are a few things that journalists and other interested parties should look for.
First, did the grand jury find any new prosecutable offenses?
The answer is probably no. The statute of limitations, which has protected many abusive priests from prosecution, has likely expired on many of the crimes detailed in the report. Nor is it likely that any bishops can be prosecuted for not reporting priests to the authorities, because that was not required by law until recently in most states.
Second, did the report find any priests credibly accused of abuse who are still in ministry or any bishop currently in office who kept a bad priest in ministry?