A Roman Catholic diocese identified 71 priests and other members of the church who had been accused of child sex abuse on Wednesday.
They said they are holding accountable the bishops who led the church for the past 70 years, announcing their names will be stripped from all church properties.
At a news conference to detail the church’s actions, a Harrisburg Bishop apologized to those who were abused, the Catholic faithful and the community and expressed his “profound sorrow.”
With its announcement, the Harrisburg Diocese became the second of six dioceses under investigation by the state to get out in front of a pending grand jury report on clergy sex abuse. The Erie Diocese released its own findings on clergy abuse in April.
The release of the nearly 900-page state grand jury report has been held up by challenges by some priests and former priests. The state Supreme Court ruled last week a version with some names blacked out can be made public as early as next week. The court said it identified more than 300 “predator priests” in the six dioceses.
The Harrisburg Diocese was making public the names of all those who faced allegations of child sex abuse but that it did not determine whether they all had merit, though some of those on the list have been convicted of crimes.
The Harrisburg list includes 37 priests, three deacons and six seminarians from the diocese, nine clergy members from other dioceses and 16 from religious communities. The conduct was classified as indecent behavior, inappropriate behavior such as kissing and inappropriate communication with children.
Most of the allegations date from the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s, the diocese said.
The church is adopting a series of new procedures to deal with complaints and to help protect against future abuse, the bishop said.
Any new complaint will be immediately forwarded to local authorities, background checks will be conducted on people working for the church, including volunteers, and all employees will be required to take part in training on how to recognize and report abuse, the diocese said.
Court documents have revealed that the pending state grand jury report, the work of a two-year investigation, includes allegations of obstruction of justice by people “associated with the Roman Catholic Church, local public officials and community leaders.”
Many people who suffer sexual abuse continue to suffer in silence years after the abuse occurred. Many are ashamed or afraid to come forward. Our Florida Sexual Abuse Injury Attorneys at Whittel & Melton are dedicated to helping victims of abuse by a church or clergy member. We can investigate your case to determine the liable parties. In addition to the abuser, church officials and the church itself may be liable for allowing the abuse to occur.
We represent people of any faith, including abuse involving:
- Catholic Church
- Jehovah’s Witnesses
- Protestant churches
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- Church Of God In Christ, Inc. (COGIC)
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If you have suffered physical or sexual abuse recently or many years ago, help is available to you. Please call us at 866-608-5529 or contact us online to learn more about the options available to you.