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Maryland Report Reveals Sexual Abuse by Baltimore Priests

A report by the Maryland AG's office exposes over 150 Catholic priests and associates of the Baltimore Archdiocese for sexually abusing 600 children over 80 years, with church leaders accused of covering it up.

Maryland Report Reveals Sexual Abuse

Over 150 Catholic priests and other associates with the Archdiocese of Baltimore have sexually abused over 600 children over the past 80 years, according to a report released on April 6 by the Maryland Attorney General’s Office. The report also accuses church leaders of covering up the abuses, allowing the perpetrators to escape accountability.

The report paints a damning picture of the archdiocese, which is the oldest Roman Catholic diocese in the country and spans much of Maryland. Some parishes, schools, and congregations had more than one abuser at the same time, while others allowed a priest to feign hepatitis treatment and make other excuses to avoid facing abuse allegations.

The investigation, which was conducted by the Maryland Attorney General’s Office, shows “pervasive, pernicious, and persistent abuse,” said Maryland Attorney General Anthony Brown, who took office in January. State investigators reviewed over 100,000 pages of documents dating back to the 1940s and interviewed hundreds of victims and witnesses. The report is redacted to protect confidential grand jury materials, but it revealed that the number of victims is likely far higher than the 600 reported, and that some accused clergy’s identities have been removed.

The report disclosed that Baltimore Archbishop William Lori apologized to the victims and said the report “details a reprehensible time in the history of this Archdiocese, a time that will not be covered up, ignored, or forgotten.” The Baltimore archdiocese has said that it has 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 Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests called on the archbishop to explain the discrepancies between the report and the names of abusers released publicly by archdiocese officials. Other investigations involving the Archdiocese of Washington and the Diocese of Wilmington, Delaware, which both include parts of Maryland, are ongoing.

The report’s findings have prompted the state legislature to pass a bill to end a statute of limitations on abuse-related civil lawsuits, sending it to Governor Wes Moore, who has said he supports it. The bill will allow victims to sue for damages beyond the current 20-year statute of limitations, giving them more time to seek justice.

The report’s release is part of a wider effort to address sexual abuse within the Catholic Church. The scandal has plagued the church for decades, with allegations of abuse and cover-ups emerging in dioceses around the world. In the United States, a series of investigations and lawsuits have exposed widespread abuse and cover-ups in several dioceses, including Boston, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles.

The church has taken steps to address the problem, including implementing new policies and procedures to prevent abuse and improve accountability. In 2002, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops adopted a “zero-tolerance” policy toward sexual abuse by priests, and in 2019, Pope Francis issued new guidelines requiring all Catholic bishops around the world to report any allegations of abuse or cover-up to church authorities.

Despite these efforts, the problem persists. The Maryland report is just the latest in a series of revelations about sexual abuse within the Catholic Church. The report’s findings underscore the need for continued vigilance and action to prevent abuse and hold perpetrators accountable. It also highlights the need for support and justice for survivors of abuse, who have suffered immeasurable harm at the hands of those they trusted.

The release of the report has drawn widespread attention and condemnation. Advocates for survivors of abuse have called for greater transparency and accountability from the Catholic Church, and for more to be done to prevent future abuse.

The report’s findings have been met with shock and outrage, with many calling for greater accountability and transparency within the Catholic Church. Survivors of abuse and advocacy groups have long criticized the church’s handling of abuse allegations and called for greater measures to prevent and address abuse within the institution.

The Maryland report is just the latest in a string of investigations into abuse within the Catholic Church in the United States. In 2018, a grand jury in Pennsylvania released a report detailing the abuse of more than 1,000 children by over 300 priests over the course of several decades. Similar investigations have taken place in states including New York, New Jersey, and Illinois.

Critics say that the church’s response to the abuse crisis has been insufficient, with many calling for greater accountability for bishops and other church leaders who may have covered up abuse or failed to take adequate action to address it. Some have also called for the church to end its practice of mandatory celibacy for priests, arguing that it contributes to a culture of secrecy and abuse within the institution.

The Maryland report has also renewed calls for the repeal of statutes of limitations on civil lawsuits related to abuse, which can prevent survivors from seeking justice and compensation for decades-old abuse. Several states have recently passed laws allowing survivors to sue even after the statute of limitations has expired.

In a statement responding to the report, Baltimore Archbishop William Lori acknowledged the church’s failures and expressed his commitment to addressing the issue of abuse. “We acknowledge our past failures and recognize that trust has been broken,” he said. “We are committed to transparency and accountability in our efforts to provide healing and justice to those who have been harmed.”

The Maryland Attorney General’s Office has encouraged any survivors of abuse to come forward and report their experiences. “We hope that survivors of abuse see the report’s release as a sign that they can speak out and be heard,” said Maryland Attorney General Anthony Brown. “We want to assure them that their experiences will be taken seriously, and that we are committed to ensuring that justice is served.”

The report’s release has been met with mixed reactions from members of the Catholic community. Some have expressed shock and dismay at the scale of the abuse and the church’s failures to address it, while others have criticized the report for its focus on historical cases and for painting the entire church in a negative light.

The Maryland report is a sobering reminder of the ongoing crisis of abuse within the Catholic Church, and of the need for greater transparency, accountability, and action to address this issue. As more survivors come forward and more investigations take place, it is clear that the church must take bold and meaningful steps to address the harm caused by abuse and to prevent it from happening in the future.

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