Hundreds of children were sexually abused by more than 150 different Catholic priests associated with the Archdiocese of Baltimore, according to an explosive investigative report recently made public.
More than 600 children were abused over a span of 80 years, although the report acknowledges the number of victims is likely much higher. The report also levels blame on church leadership for covering up the claims and failing to protect the children.
The details are the culmination of an investigation launched in 2019 by the Maryland Attorney General’s Office.
About the Report
The report’s release has been contentious. Details were not disclosed to the public initially because information in the probe had been obtained from church officials via grand jury subpoenas, which are confidential in Maryland. However, a Baltimore judge ordered the release of a redacted version of the report, contending that the “need for disclosure outweighs the need for secrecy.” The judge said he will consider whether the redacted portions should be released at a later date.
The report identifies 158 priests accused of abusing more than 600 children. While most of the accused priests have previously been publicly identified by the Baltimore Archdiocese, 43 have not. Ten names in the report remain redacted. The investigation mostly focused on the years prior to 2002, when a Boston Globe investigation into abuse in the Archdiocese of Boston led to revelations of widespread abuse nationwide.
The nearly 500-page report into abuse in the Archdiocese of Baltimore includes the following revelations:
- Rather than protecting the children, the Baltimore diocese at times quietly transferred problem priests after victims came forward.
- Church leadership failed to adequately investigate victims’ claims and covered up allegations rather than protect victims.
- Abusers preyed upon children who were especially vulnerable due to shyness, problems at home or lack of confidence. They also singled out children most devoted to the church.
The report also blames the judicial system and the news media for helping the diocese avoid accountability.
About Maryland’s Statute of Limitations
Currently, victims of child sex abuse in Maryland are not allowed to sue after they turn 38 years old. However, the state legislature recently passed a bill to end the statute of limitations on abuse-related civil lawsuits, and Gov. Wes Moore has said he will sign the bill into law. The bill would eliminate the age limit and allow for retroactive lawsuits.
A Dark History Within the Diocese
The Archdiocese of Baltimore – the oldest Roman Catholic diocese in the United States – has long faced scrutiny over the conduct of priests and its handling of allegations.
Recent revelations of sex abuse by priests in Maryland is part of a larger problem of pervasive child exploitation within the Catholic Church. In 2004, a Church-commissioned report revealed that more than 4,000 Roman Catholic priests in the U.S. had faced sexual abuse allegations over the last 50 years in cases involving more than 10,000 children.
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