Pennsylvania Supreme Court says priest sex abuse grand jury report needs more review

His order said that besides priests and bishops, the report would identify public officials and community leaders who may have had a role in abetting child abuse.

Krumenacker invited bishops of the six dioceses — Allentown, Scranton, Harrisburg, Greensburg, Pittsburgh and Erie — to testify. Bishop Lawrence Persico of Erie was the only one to accept. The others filed written responses. Krumenacker gave the individuals named in the report until June 22 to reply, but said he might authorize release of the report the next day.

The Supreme Court on June 20 issued a stay of the release of the report. The stay angered abuse victims and their advocates, who had been hoping the report would be issued before the end of this month.

The Pennsylvania Office of Victim Advocate tweeted that victims have waited long enough for the report’s publication. “The report must be released so their voices can be heard,” it said.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro’s office, which led the grand jury investigation from 2016 until this past April and then oversaw the report, said it would not object to a brief stay of a few days, according to the new court order.

Shapiro’s spokesman, Joe Grace, said in a statement Monday that the petitioners are seeking to “permanently suppress” the voices of victims of “widespread” sex abuse in the church.

“The Office of Attorney General stands in total opposition to that position and is fighting with all of its legal ability to ensure the publication of this report,” Grace said. “While we did not oppose giving the court a matter of days to conduct a careful review and promptly rule on these motions, that time is quickly expiring.”

The order says the possibility that Krumenacker might release the report the day after the response deadline provides “inadequate time for essential judicial review.” It also says the state’s highest court cannot properly judge the petitions for review because it hasn’t yet seen the entire report.

According to the order, the court will revisit the stay in the proceedings after resolving the issue over the petitions for review, or whether the stay remains warranted.

Shapiro’s office can withdraw its acquiescence to the stay and file its own objection to blocking release of the report, the order says.

The investigation was undertaken after another grand jury report looking only at the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown in 2016 identified around 50 people who either committed alleged abuse or covered it up. Hundreds of victims were involved, it said. The remaining Archdiocese of Philadelphia had already been the subject of highly critical investigations.

The current investigation is expected to name many more alleged perpetrators and victims, in what could be the largest accounting of any report of abuse in the United States.


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