A judge on Friday ordered the release of a redacted version of an investigative report detailing allegations of sexual abuse against more than 150 Roman Catholic priests in the Archdiocese of Baltimore and examining the institution's response.
Completed last year by the Maryland Attorney General's Office, the report has yet to be made public because it contains information obtained from church officials through grand jury subpoenas, and such proceedings are confidential in Maryland.
But attorneys for the state asked the court for permission to publish their findings, and Baltimore Circuit Court Judge Robert Taylor issued his ruling Friday, asking for a redacted version to be published in the coming weeks or months. Taylor said he will consider whether the redacted portions should also be published later.
According to previous court documents, the nearly 500-page report identifies 158 priests accused of abusing more than 600 victims over the past 80 years. The attorney general's investigation began in 2019.
In her ruling, Taylor said it is in the interest of justice to publish the report, in part because many abusers have avoided criminal charges and other forms of liability.
After victims suffered "decades of systemic injustice," he wrote, "the only form of justice that can now be made available is a public reckoning."
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Taylor also said that Maryland lawmakers should be able to consider the content of the report during the current state legislative session, which ends April 10. abuse.
“The need for disclosure outweighs the need for secrecy,” Taylor wrote.
Currently, victims of child sexual abuse in Maryland cannot sue after their 38th birthday. Other proposals to remove the age limit have not been signed into law in recent years, but the issue has received renewed attention this session.
Taylor requested a list of people whose identities will be redacted from the report prior to publication. He gave the attorney general's office a March 13 deadline and said the redacted report could be published as soon as he has approved the list. The court will then contact everyone on the list, allow them to review certain redactions, and eventually consider removing the redactions and publishing a more complete version of the report.
Of the accused priests named in the report, the Archdiocese of Baltimore publicly identified most, but 43 did not, according to the ruling. They will be among those listed, along with others facing allegations of abuse and involvement in subsequent cover-ups.
In a response Friday to Taylor's decision, the attorney general's office said it was pleased with the ruling and would "move expeditiously to comply with the court's order and prepare a redacted copy of the report."