In Maryland they identify almost 200 priests as sexual abusers

An investigation by the Maryland attorney general identified 158 Roman Catholic priests in the Archdiocese of Baltimore who have been accused of sexually and physically abusing more than 600 victims over the past 80 years, according to court records filed Thursday.

Attorney General Brian Frosh announced that his office has completed a 463-page report on the investigation, which began in 2019. He filed a motion in Baltimore Circuit Court to make the report public. Court permission is required because the report contains grand jury subpoena information. It is not clear when the court will make a decision.

“For decades, survivors reported sexual abuse by Catholic priests and for decades the Church covered up the abuse instead of holding the abusers accountable and protecting their congregations,” according to the court filing. “The Archdiocese of Baltimore was no exception.”

The report, titled “Clergy Abuse in Maryland,” identifies 115 priests who have been prosecuted for sexual abuse and/or have been publicly identified by the archdiocese as “credibly accused” of sexual abuse. It also includes an additional 43 priests accused of sexual abuse but not publicly identified by the archdiocese, according to the court filing.

“The Report summarizes the sexual abuse and physical torture perpetrated by the 158 priests and the Archdiocese’s response to that abuse,” the court filing says.

In a letter released Thursday night, Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore apologized “to the victim-survivors who were harmed by a minister of the Church and who were harmed by those who failed to protect them, who failed to respond with care and compassion.” . and that they did not hold abusers accountable for their sinful and criminal behavior.”

“As we read today’s motion, we feel renewed shame, deep remorse, and sincere sympathy, most especially for those who suffered the actions of the representatives of the same Church entrusted with their spiritual and physical well-being,” Lori wrote.

David Lorenz, the Maryland leader of the Survivors Network of Abused by Priests, described the news of the report and the number of victims as “absolutely horrendous.”

“Once again, the church has lied about the number of abusive priests,” Lorenz said in a statement. “Many parishes were predator dumps, some were home to nearly ten. It is very clear that no one was safe. Sadly, it is not unlike any diocesan or secular report in the country.”

While the court filing noted that more than 600 victims were identified, it also said that “there are almost certainly hundreds more, as the Department of Justice’s Annual Crime Victimization Report has shown that most incidents of sexual assault are not are denounced”.

Both boys and girls were abused, according to court records, ranging in age from preschool to young adulthood.

“Although no parish was safe, some congregations and schools were assigned multiple abuser priests, and some had more than one abuser priest at the same time,” the court filing said. “A congregation was assigned 11 sex abuser priests over 40 years.”

The sexual abuse was so widespread, according to court records, that victims sometimes reported the sexual abuse to the priests who were the perpetrators.

The investigation also revealed that the archdiocese failed to report many allegations of sexual abuse, conducted proper investigations of alleged abuse, removed abusers from ministry or restricted their access to children.

“Instead, he went to great lengths to keep the abuse secret,” the court filing said. “While the Archdiocese reported a large number of complaints to the police, especially in recent years, for decades it worked to ensure that the perpetrators did not face justice.”

In the court filing, Frosh argues that “publicly airing Church transgressions is critical to holding individuals and institutions accountable and improving the way sexual abuse allegations are handled in the future.”

“More importantly, it is vital to protect children and the entire community,” the filing said.

The court file also noted that of the 43 priests who have not been publicly identified or prosecuted, 30 have died.

“For those priests who have died, this additional interest in secrecy is less compelling,” the presentation says.

The attorney general’s office has removed all identifying information from the 13 living church officials who have been accused of sexual abuse but have not been listed by the archdiocese as credible defendants and have not been prosecuted.

In 2019, Frosh launched a criminal investigation into child sexual abuse perpetrated by priests and other employees of the Archdiocese of Baltimore. Hundreds of thousands of documents dating back to the 1940s in response to grand jury subpoenas.

As part of its investigation, the attorney general’s office created an email address and phone line direct for people to report information. More than 300 people contacted the office, and investigators interviewed hundreds of victims and witnesses.