BALTIMORE (AP) — More than 150 Catholic priests and others associated with the Archdiocese of Baltimore sexually abused over 600 children and often escaped accountability, according to a long-awaited state report released Wednesday that revealed the scope of abuse spanning 80 years and accused church leaders of decades of coverups.
The report paints a damning picture of the archdiocese, which is the oldest Roman Catholic diocese in the country and spans much of Maryland. Some parishes, schools and congregations had more than one abuser at the same time — including St. Mark Parish in Catonsville, which had 11 abusers living and working there between 1964 and 2004. One deacon admitted to molesting over 100 children. Another priest was allowed to feign hepatitis treatment and make other excuses to avoid facing abuse allegations.
The Maryland Attorney General’s Office released the findings of their yearslong investigation during Holy Week — considered the most sacred time of year in Christianity ahead of Easter Sunday — and said the number of victims is likely far higher. The report was redacted to protect confidential grand jury materials, meaning the identities of some accused clergy were removed.
“The staggering pervasiveness of the abuse itself underscores the culpability of the Church hierarchy,” the report said. “The sheer number of abusers and victims, the depravity of the abusers’ conduct, and the frequency with which known abusers were given the opportunity to continue preying upon children are astonishing.”
Disclosure of the redacted findings marks a significant development in an ongoing legal battle over their release and adds to growing evidence from parishes across the country as numerous similar revelations have rocked the Catholic Church in recent years.
Baltimore Archbishop William Lori, in a statement posted online, apologized to the victims and said the report “details a reprehensible time in the history of this Archdiocese, a time that will not be covered up, ignored or forgotten.” “It is difficult for most to imagine that such evil acts could have actually occurred,” Lori said. “For victim-survivors everywhere, they know the hard truth: These evil acts did occur.”
Also on Wednesday, the state legislature passed a bill to end a statute of limitations on abuse-related civil lawsuits, sending it to Gov. Wes Moore, who has said he supports it. The Baltimore archdiocese says it has paid more than $13.2 million for care and compensation for 301 abuse victims since the 1980s, including $6.8 million toward 105 voluntary settlements.
Maryland Attorney General Anthony Brown, who took office in January, said the investigation shows “pervasive, pernicious and persistent abuse.” State investigators began their work in 2019; they reviewed over 100,000 pages of documents dating back to the 1940s and interviewed hundreds of victims and witnesses.
Victims said the report was a long-overdue public reckoning with shameful accusations the church has been facing for decades.
Source: AP – All contents copyright 2023 Associated Press. All rights reserved.
Written by: Editor