Monthly Archives: March 2016

Pennsylvania Catholic diocese covered up decades worth of child abuse, grand jury report finds


Pennsylvania Catholic diocese covered up decades worth of child abuse, grand jury report finds

By: Steve Esack Contact Reporter
Call Harrisburg Bureau
March 1, 2016 3:43pm
From the Link: Pennsylvania Catholic diocese covered up decades worth of child abuse, grand jury report finds

"Saint" Peter Damian

“Saint” Peter Damian

Two bishops who ran a Catholic diocese in western Pennsylvania systematically covered up decades worth of child abuse committed by priests and other religious leaders they supervised, according to a grand jury report released Tuesday by the state attorney general’s office.

The statewide grand jury investigation, which started in 2014 with a referral from the Cambria County District Attorney’s office, discovered the Roman Catholic Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown kept a secret archive detailing hundreds of abuse claims against 50 priests and other religious leaders since the mid-1960s, the attorney general says.

The archive stretched from the mid-1960s to 2011 and included Bishop James Hogan’s notes on the abuse claims and letters and other documents sent to Bishop Joseph Adamec. Both bishops also intervened to stop law enforcement investigations over the years, the grand jury report found.

But no criminal charges can be filed against anyone, Attorney General Kathleen Kane said at a news conference, because the statute of limitations has run out, abusers have died and victims are fearful of testifying in open court.

The grand jury report, Kane said, recommends the state Legislature lift the statute of limitations on when child abuse claims can be filed.

“The heinous crimes these children endured are absolutely unconscionable,” Kane said in a news release that mirrors her comments at a morning news conference at the Blair County Convention Center. “These predators desecrated a sacred trust and preyed upon their victims in the very places where they should have felt most safe.”

The current bishop of Altoona-Johnstown, Mark Bartchak, issued a statement saying he deeply regrets “any harm that has come to children.”

He says the diocese will continue cooperating with authorities.

He did not comment specifically on the report’s findings. He says the diocese is reviewing it.

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests says one of the grand jury’s most significant findings was that a diocesan review board was not focused on helping victims.