More than 300 Pennsylvania priests committed sexual abuse over decades

The report is thought to be the most comprehensive to date into abuse in the US church but while prosecutors have filed charges against two priests the vast majority of crimes happened too long ago to prosecute under current laws

The report is thought to be the most comprehensive to date into abuse in the US church but while prosecutors have filed charges against two priests the vast majority of crimes happened too long ago to prosecute under current laws

Two years and 884 pages later, the Pennsylvania grand jury released its report that examined more than 60 years of sexual child abuse, cover-ups, and more than 1,000 identifiable victims, KDKA-TV reported.

The long-anticipated grand jury report on Catholic clergy sex abuse was released Tuesday, yet much still remains hidden. 18 of those offenders spent at least a portion of their time in a Butler County church.

According to the report, 41 predator priests were named in the Diocese of Erie, 20 in the Diocese of Greensburg, 45 in the Diocese of Harrisburg, 99 in the Diocese of Pittsburgh and 59 in the Diocese of Scranton totaling 301 Catholic priests identified as predator priests who sexually abused children while serving in active ministry in the church. While the almost two-year probe has yielded charges against two clergymen - including a priest who has since pleaded guilty, and another who allegedly forced his accuser to say confession after each sex assault - the vast majority of priests already identified as perpetrators are either dead or are likely to avoid arrest because their alleged crimes are too old to prosecute under state law.

State Attorney General Josh Shapiro had written to Pope Francis on July 25, requesting that the Pontiff direct church leaders to stop "efforts to silence the survivors".

Another priest quit after years of child abuse complaints, but received a letter of reference for his next job at Walt Disney World, the grand jury said.

The Harrisburg Diocese earlier this month identified 71 priests and other members of the church who had been accused of child sex abuse.

"And that's why we've taken the steps to see that it doesn't go on", Cardinal Donald Wuerl said on Tuesday.

The report is made up of years' worth of testimony but also numerous church's own records, files known to priests as the "secret archives", where accusations of abuse were kept and hidden away until now.

In Pennsylvania, criminal charges can only be brought under the statute of limitations in effect at the time of the crime.

"I would say walk in my shoes, a survivors shoes, it's a terrible way of living".

Hannon admitted to the abuse while receiving treatment at Foundation House, a psychiatric facility in New Mexico, the report said.

Because the priests had largely escaped public accountability and in some cases were promoted, the report said: "Until that changes, we think it is too early to close the book on the Catholic church sex scandal".

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Some bishops from the six dioceses named responded nearly immediately after the release. In the Pittsburgh diocese, the report states that one boy was forced to strip naked and pose as Christ on the Cross for priests while taking photos of him that they added to a child porn collection that was shared on church grounds.

Theodore McCarrick, who preceded Wuerl as archbishop of Washington from 2001 to 2006, stepped down last month from the College of Cardinals, becoming the first cardinal in history to resign because he was accused of sexual abuse.

J. Pascal Sabas, a priest who had stints working in ME in the early 1960s, was accused of sexually abusing a 14-year-old boy starting in 1964, according to Tuesday's report.

Ahead of the report's release, the former bishop of Pittsburgh who now leads the Washington archdiocese told CBS that the church was trying to rid itself of abusive priests and that the report would vindicate the reforms he advocated in 2002 to that effect.

The introduction of the report provides several examples of how the dioceses investigated ignored allegations or even praised priests accused of sexual abuse.

"If it does nothing else, this report removes any remaining doubt that the failure to prevent abuse was a systemic failure, an institutional failure".

Charges were filed against former Erie Catholic Diocese priest David Poulson in May for the sexual abuse of two young boys.

"It was child sexual abuse, including rape, committed by grown men - priests - against children", Shapiro said in a press conference.

The report said the majority of the cases of alleged abuse were too old to prosecute, but it issued presentments against two priests in the Greensburg and Erie dioceses.

The Philadelphia archdiocese and the Johnstown-Altoona diocese were not included in the investigation because they have been the subject of three previous scathing grand jury investigations.

Peter Isely, a longtime advocate for victims of sexual abuse, said groups have always been pressing the USA government for a national investigation of child sex abuse, especially in the Catholic Church.

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