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Maryland Catholic Diocese Probe Reveals Staggering Sex Abuse

A long-awaited report by Maryland’s attorney general has uncovered more than 600 children molested over 80 years by 150 Catholic priests and others connected to the Archdiocese of Baltimore, which spent decades covering up the crimes.

“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.”

Outcries Ignored, Covered Up

The report reveals:

  • The archdiocese — the oldest in the country — hid the abuse, repeatedly dismissed reports of abuse and failed to investigate or protect victims.
  • Investigators also blamed the judicial system, law enforcement and the media for helping the church bury the epidemic of abuse.

The investigation was launched in 2019 and includes reviews of over 100,000 pages of documents dating back to the 1940s and interviews with hundreds of victims and witnesses.

Key Findings of Sex Abuse Probe

Among the findings of the nearly 500-page report:

  • 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.
  • In some cases, victims made outcries to priests who were abusers themselves, prosecutors wrote.
  • One deacon admitted to molesting over 100 children.
  • Another priest was allowed to claim hepatitis treatment and other excuses to avoid facing abuse allegations.
  • Abusers picked “children who were especially isolated or vulnerable because of shyness, lack of confidence, or problems at home, and they presented themselves as protectors… Abusers preyed upon the children most devoted to the church.”
  • The report cites numerous instances of leaders taking steps to protect accused clergy, including allowing them to retire with financial support rather than be ousted, letting them remain in the ministry and failing to report alleged abuse to law enforcement.

“Unfortunately, most of the abusers and those who concealed the wrongdoings are dead and no longer subject to be prosecuted,” Attorney General Anthony Brown said. “We hope to make public for the first time the enormous scope and scale or the abuse and concealment perpetrated by the Archdiocese of Baltimore.”

Sex Abuse Victims Respond to Findings

Victims said the report was long overdue.

“We are relieved to know that the horrifying experiences of the survivors who spoke openly with investigators and who worried that their efforts would be in vain are now public,” said the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, known as SNAP.

“We believe disclosing the extent to which the Church went to shield information, and documenting the immense pain that the victims underwent as a result, will do much to ensure that these crimes never occur within the Catholic community in Maryland again.”

The Baltimore Archdiocese has reportedly 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.

“The detailed accounts of abuse are shocking and soul-searing,” said Baltimore Archbishop William Lori. “It is difficult for most to imagine that such evil acts could have actually occurred. For victim-survivors everywhere, they know the hard truth: These evil acts did occur.”

“To all survivors, I offer my most earnest apology on behalf of the Archdiocese and pledge my continued solidarity and support for your healing. We hear you. We believe you and your courageous voices have made a difference.”

How We Help Sex Abuse Victims 

Our national sexual abuse lawyers work one-on-one with survivors, offering a direct, personal level of care and discretion. We use our decades of experience battling big organizations to fight on behalf of survivors, aggressively taking on those responsible for causing pain and suffering. If you are a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, we can help.

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