A shocking report has revealed that the Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore covered up child sexual abuse committed by over 150 church leaders dating back to the 1940s. The Maryland Attorney General’s Office conducted a four-year investigation that found that more than 600 children were sexually abused by clergy, nuns, seminarians, and deacons. The investigation exposed an “incontrovertible history” of “pervasive, pernicious, and persistent abuse” allowed to continue as diocese officials prioritized protecting the institution over the safety of the children in their congregations and schools.
Attorney General Anthony Brown condemned the archdiocese’s systemic failure to protect the most vulnerable, saying, “This report illustrates the depraved, systemic failure of the archdiocese to protect the most vulnerable – the children it was charged to keep safe.” Shockingly, some churches and schools even had more than one offender on staff at the same time. A parish in Catonsville, Maryland, had 11 separate abusers between 1964 and 2004.
The report claimed that the archdiocese failed to protect victims when allegations of abuse surfaced. For instance, in 1987, when the diocese learned that a clergyman had sexually abused a 14-year-old girl and admitted to being “aroused by some young girls,” it told the victim that he would receive therapy and be reassigned away from children. The diocese took no further action until additional victims came forward in 1994. By then, nine other girls had been abused, and there were indications of other victims who chose not to report their cases.
The attorney general’s investigation focused on abuse before 2002, when media reports exposed the cover-up of sexual abuse allegations by the Archdiocese of Boston, leading to reforms by the church. However, the report claimed that the Archdiocese of Maryland failed to fully implement needed reforms, such as publicly listing all known abusers and allowing some to retire with pensions instead of being ousted.
The report recommended eliminating Maryland’s statute of limitations for claims of childhood sexual abuse to allow victims to file civil lawsuits for their damages. State lawmakers passed legislation approving a bill that would end the current restriction barring alleged victims from suing after they reach age 38. It is unacceptable that the archdiocese protected abusers while allowing more children to suffer. The victims deserve justice, and it’s time for the church to prioritize the safety of children over the institution.
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