Pennsylavia report says predatory priest was sent to Mass. treatment center

New report details horrific abuse by priests

More than 300 priests were linked to abuse claims and over 1,000 victims were identified, said Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro in a news conference following the report's release. It was largely based on documents from secret archives kept by the dioceses, including handwritten confessions by priests, he said. Without that kind of incontrovertible evidence, apparently, the diocese remained unwilling to err on the side of children even in the face of multiple reports of abuse.

Representatives of the six Pennsylvania dioceses included in the report could not be reached for comment.

The document, totalling over 900 pages, relates to the USA state of Pennsylvania and claims hundreds of priests were guilty of a string of horrifying sexual abuses dating as far back as the 1950's, all allegedly covered up by the Catholic church.

The grand jury said the state's bishops had misused their power and enabled the victimization of children by transferring abusive priests and failing to notify police of their crimes.

The grand jury said it believes the "real number" of abused children might be "in the thousands" since some records were lost and victims were afraid to come forward.

"The grand jury has challenged us as a Catholic diocese to put victims first and to continue to improve ways to protect children and youth", Bishop Lawrence Persico of the Erie Diocese said in a statement.

'Church officials routinely and purposefully described the abuse as horseplay and wrestling and inappropriate conduct.

"Priests were raping little boys and girls and the men of god who were responsible for them not only did nothing, they hid it all for decades", said Attorney General Josh Shapiro.

Shapiro later issued a statement welcoming the state Supreme Court's decision to allow the report's release.

Another boy was repeatedly raped from ages 13 to 15 by a priest who bore down so hard on the boy's back that it caused severe spine injuries.

Two of the names were redacted.

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The report also shows 99 priests accused in the Diocese of Pittsburgh, 41 priests in the Diocese of Erie, and 20 priests in the Diocese of Greensburg.

Most of the Pennsylvania victims were boys, but girls were abused, too, the report said.

In one case, a priest in Harrisburg abused five sisters from the same family.

Shapiro noted that despite the length of the report, the 23 grand jurors acknowledge that "as a outcome of the cover-up, nearly every instance of abuse we found is too old to be prosecuted". On multiple occasions, Pennsylvania priests would take their victims out of town with the goal of disorienting them. "I really think that overall Wuerl exercised his oversight properly", he said.

The priests marked their victims with gifts. Soderlund was arrested, convicted, and sentenced for possession of sexual exploitation of children and possession of child pornography in 2009 in Wyoming.

The accusations that survived the redactions include priests asking a young boy to strip naked and photographing him while comparing him to Christ on the cross; the rape of boys and girls as young as 7 years old, including an instance in which a priest raped a girl in a hospital room after she had her tonsils taken out; and a priest who impregnated his rape victim and arranged an abortion. Another child drank juice, only to wake up the next morning bleeding from his rectum and unable to remember what had happened.

In Chile, the Pope was forced to recant his dismissal of an abuse scandal involving a prominent priest and bishops accused of covering up his crimes.

He said he imposed a "zero tolerance" policy for clergy who committed abuse and a process to address allegations.

"We are focused on re-establishing trust among all those who rely on the Catholic Church for help, for spiritual guidance, and for strength", Schlert wrote, asking those in his diocese to "join me as we pray for victims and survivors of these reprehensible acts". But there is no full accounting of abuse in the Catholic Church in the United States. That story was turned into Oscar-winning Hollywood movie, Spotlight, starring Michael Keaton.

Wuerl replaced McCarrick as Washington's archbishop after McCarrick retired in 2006.

The report comes amid renewed scrutiny of child sex abuse allegations within the Catholic Church. "It served a legal objective that church officials manipulated for their advantage".

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