In July, after a two-year investigation, a Pennsylvania grand jury issued a nearly 900-page report detailing sexual abuse by more than 300 Catholic priests, as well as wrongdoing by dozens of church superiors who allegedly engaged in a decades-long pattern concealment in Pennsylvania.Office of the Attorney General of Pennsylvania, Report I of the 40th Statewide Investigating Grand Jury (Harrisburg, PA: Office of the Attorney General of Pennsylvania, July 27, 2018); and Jeremy Roebuck, Angela Couloumbis, and Liz Navratil, “Pa. Catholic Church Sex Abuse Report Names Hundreds of Priests, Accuses Leaders of Cover-Up: ‘They Hid It All,’” Philadelphia Inquirer, August 14, 2018.
Many of those involved have gone on to assume prominent posts in the Catholic Church nationwide.Roebuck, Couloumbis, and Navratil, “Pa. Catholic Church Sex Abuse Report,” 2018. According to the grand jury: “Priests were raping little boys and girls, and the men of God who were responsible for them not only did nothing; they hid it all.”Office of the Attorney General of Pennsylvania, Report I of the 40th Statewide Investigating Grand Jury, 2018, 7. The report identified more than 1,000 children who were victimized stretching back to the 1940s—and suggested there are likely thousands more.Office of the Attorney General of Pennsylvania, Report I of the 40th Statewide Investigating Grand Jury, 2018, 1, 658. Also see Laurie Goodstein and Sharon Otterman, “Catholic Priests Abused 1,000 Children in Pennsylvania, Report Says,” New York Times, August 14, 2018. For many of these victims, the Pennsylvania statute of limitations cuts off opportunities for closure and redress.Tony Romeo, “Pa. Child Sex Abuse Legislation Remains in Limbo,” KYW Newsradio 1060, October 18, 2018. A bill introduced during the 2017-2018 legislative session would have changed the statute of limitations and given adult victims of childhood sexual abuse more options for justice, but the Pennsylvania House and Senate could not agree on a final version and the session drew to a close with no compromise—and no new law.Romeo, “Legislation Remains in Limbo,” 2018; and Pennsylvania SB 261 (2017-2018).