An investigation by the Maryland Attorney General has identified 158 Roman Catholic priests in the Archdiocese of Baltimore who have been accused of sexually and physically abusing more than 600 victims over the past 80 years, according to court filings Thursday. .
Attorney General Brian Frosh announced that his office had completed a 463-page report into the investigation, which began in 2019. He filed a motion with the Baltimore Circuit Court to release the report. Court permission is required because the report contains information from grand jury subpoenas. It is unclear when the court will make a decision.
“For decades survivors have reported sexual abuse by Catholic priests and for decades the Church has covered up the abuse rather than holding the abusers accountable and protecting its congregations,” according to the court filing. “The Archdiocese of Baltimore was no exception.”
The report, titled “Clergy Abuse in Maryland,” identifies 115 priests who have been prosecuted for sexual abuse and/or publicly identified by the archdiocese as having been “credibly accused” of sexual abuse. It also includes 43 additional priests accused of sexual abuse but not publicly identified by the archdiocese, according to the court filing.
“The report summarizes the sexual abuse and physical torture perpetrated by the 158 priests and the Archdiocese’s response to those abuses,” the court filing reads.
In a letter released late Thursday, Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore apologized “to the victim-survivors who were harmed by a minister of the Church and who were harmed by those who failed to protect them. , who did not respond with care and compassion”. and who did not hold the abusers accountable for their sinful and criminal behavior.
“As we read today’s motion, we feel renewed shame, deep remorse and heartfelt sympathy, especially for those who have suffered from the actions of representatives of the very Church charged with their spiritual welfare. and physical,” Lori wrote.
David Lorenz, the Maryland leader of the Priest Abuse Survivors Network, described the news of the report and the number of victims as “absolutely horrifying.”
“Once again, the church has lied about the number of abusive priests,” Lorenz said in a statement. “Many parishes were dumping grounds for predators, some were home to nearly ten. It is very clear that no one was safe. Sadly, this is no different than any diocesan or secular report in the country.
Although the court filing noted that more than 600 victims had been identified, he also said “there are almost certainly hundreds more, as the Department of Justice has shown that most incidents of sexual assault go unreported.”
The boys and girls were abused, according to the court record, with ages ranging from preschoolers to young adults.
A teenager from South Vermillion, Indiana, was shot and injured at school after what is called an “accidental discharge of a firearm” by a law enforcement officer.
“Although no parish is safe, some congregations and schools were assigned multiple violent priests, and a few had more than one sexually violent priest at the same time,” the court filing said. .”
Sexual abuse was so widespread, according to the court record, that victims sometimes reported sexual abuse to priests who were themselves the perpetrators.
The investigation also found that the archdiocese failed to report numerous allegations of sexual abuse, adequately investigate alleged abuse, remove abusers from the ministry, or restrict their access to children.
“Instead, he went to great lengths to keep the abuse a secret,” the court filing said. Justice.”
In the court filing, Frosh argues that “public exposure of Church transgressions is essential to holding individuals and institutions accountable and improving the way sexual abuse allegations are handled in the future.”
“Most importantly, it is vital to protect children and the whole community,” the filing said.
The court filing also noted that of the 43 priests who have not been publicly identified or prosecuted, 30 died.
“For deceased priests, this added interest in secrecy is less compelling,” the filing says.
The Attorney General’s office has redacted all identifying information of the 13 living church officials who have been accused of sexual abuse but who have not been listed as credibly accused by the archdiocese and who do not were not prosecuted.
In 2019, Frosh launched a criminal investigation into child sexual abuse by priests and other employees of the Archdiocese of Baltimore. Hundreds of thousands of documents dating back to the 1940s have been produced in response to grand jury subpoenas.
As part of its investigation, the attorney general’s office created an email address and a hotline for people to report information. More than 300 people contacted the office and investigators interviewed hundreds of victims and witnesses.