According to a grand jury report released earlier this month, more than 300 priests at Catholic churches across Pennsylvania were implicated in the sexual abuse of children over the course of seven decades. The findings are putting a new perspective on the scope of sex abuse within the Catholic Church, as well as the hierarchy of church leaders who worked throughout the years to cover it up.
The report stems from one of the broadest inquiries into church sex abuse in American history, which covered six of the state’s dioceses during an 18-month investigation, in addition to grand jury reports from other states that showed abuse and cover-ups in two other PA dioceses. Here are some of the key details about the findings:
- The investigation identified roughly 1,000 victims of child sex abuse by Catholic priests, but noted that there were likely thousands of other unidentified victims.
- The grand jury reviewed over 2 million documents, including over a 1,000 pages from an internal report detailing numerous acts of abuse deemed the “secret archives,” which church leaders willfully hid from the public for decades.
- The report covered dioceses from across the state, including Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, Allentown, Erie, Scranton, and more.
Although the report provides a sweeping account of the nearly unfathomable scope of child sex abuse in Catholic churches throughout Pennsylvania, it notes that few criminal cases are likely to result from the investigation. That’s due largely to the massive concealment of abuse accounts spanning decades, and the expiration of the state’s statute of limitations, which makes most cases too old to prosecute.
Child Sex Abuse Lawyers Serving Pennsylvania
While options for criminal accountability will need to be explored, victims of child sex abuse by Catholic Churches in Pennsylvania may have the option to pursue justice through the civil justice system. At Robert Peirce & Associates, P.C., our Pittsburgh trial lawyers are currently representing a victim who suffered as a result of child sex abuse, as well as the subsequent cover-up by church leaders. We are now actively involved in investigating the conduct of accused priests and Church officials, and are accepting cases from other victims throughout the state.
Though stepping forward to allege abuse is a profoundly difficult experience, it can be vital to helping victims secure the justice and compensation they deserve. By representing victims, our firm is intent on making their voices heard in the civil justice system, and to protecting their rights through every stage of the process. We also know that our clients and our work can make a marked difference in exposing the extent of child sex abuse within the Church and the inexcusable conduct of leaders whose complicity allowed abuse to persist for decades – which in turn can help raise awareness, prompt needed changes and laws, and ensure others are not victimized in the future.
If you have questions about your rights as a victim of child sex abuse, sexual abuse lawsuits in Pennsylvania, and how our firm may be able to assist you in pursuing legal action, please do not hesitate to reach out to our caring and compassionate legal team. For nearly 40 years, our firm has been protecting the rights of residents and families throughout the state, and is prepared to leverage our experience, resources, and commitment to helping abuse victims navigate their legal journeys.
To speak with an attorney from our firm, call or contact us online for a free and confidential consultation. Robert Peirce & Associates, P.C. is reviewing cases throughout Pennsylvania.