A grand jury report found that more than 300 priests sexually abused more than 1,000 children in Pennsylvania.
The report is the largest ever government agency examination of child sex abuse in the Catholic Church in the U.S.
The investigation took 18 months and covered six of the state’s dioceses. It found that church officials in Pennsylvania and the Vatican systematically worked to cover up sexual abuse and kept “secret archives” that recorded incidents of abuse. Unfortunately, statutes of limitation in Pennsylvania prevent many priests from being officially charged.
“For the first time, we can begin to understand the systematic cover-up by church leaders,” explained Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro. “Due to the Church’s manipulation of our weak laws in Pennsylvania, too many predators were out of reach, the cover-up made it impossible to achieve justice for the victims.”
Some priests gave victims gold crosses to indicate to other priests that they had been “groomed” for abuse. One victim sustained major spine injuries from abuse and became addicted to painkillers before dying of an overdose. Other survivors said the experience stopped them from having kids or being affectionate with significant others.
Survivors of child sex abuse in Pennsylvania can file criminal charges until they are 50 and civil suits until they are 30.