Sexual abuse of children is among the most heinous crimes a person can commit. Yet, over the past few years, evidence of extensive sexual abuse of children by priests within the Roman Catholic dioceses of Pennsylvania has been revealed. The work to uncover this abuse has not been easy. The dioceses have consistently worked to conceal abuse by its clergy. They have also enabled sexual abuse of children by allowing accused priests to continue attending to parishioners and their children.
Recently, several lawsuits were filed in Allegheny County against the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh regarding four priests that were not named in prior lawsuits. Many of the suits provide evidence of grooming, a methodical process of manipulating a person to a point where they can be victimized. Activities such as giving gifts, going on trips, and gradually escalating touching were reported in several new cases.
Some of the cases also allege coordinated abuse among priests. If a child had already been groomed and victimized by one priest, they would be given a cross to wear. This would then serve as a signal to other predator priests that the child was already groomed, victimized, and unlikely to report abuse. By wearing the cross, the child was inadvertently broadcasting their vulnerability to other predators.
There were also two very disturbing commonalities among the lawsuits. First, priests would threaten punishment by Jesus if the child informed anyone of the abuse. Second, trusted adults, including parents and grandparents, refused to believe children who reported the abuse. Such acts can absolutely devastate a child.
Many survivors of childhood sexual abuse have only been able to come forward with their accusations as adults. Often, this happens after the statute of limitations has expired. Until now, this has been a barrier to justice. In recent days, a new path has been forged to compel release of information regarding sex abuse offenders in the Catholic diocese of Pennsylvania.
Two survivors whose abuse occurred outside the statute of limitations have filed suit against the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference and the state’s diocese alleging crimes of conspiracy and nuisance under state law. The remedy they seek is to compel every diocese across Pennsylvania to reveal the names of all clergy members who took part in enabling and concealing child sex abuse. The attorney for the survivors said that a recent grand jury report issued by the Office of the Attorney General has not done enough to address the problem since it does not force any of the bishops to reveal the names of the offenders or the history of the bishops and top church officials that concealed the abuse.
Sexual abuse of any kind is abhorrent. When it involves a spiritual leader abusing a child under their charge, it is nearly unfathomable. We understand the difficulties faced by survivors. The Georgetown sexual abuse lawyers at Jacobs & Crumplar, P.A. have successfully won cases for victims of sexual abuse. We encourage you to allow us to defend your case against a sexual abuser regardless of when the abuse occurred. Call us at 302-656-5445 or complete our online form for a free consultation. Located in Wilmington and Georgetown, Delaware, we proudly serve clients from the surrounding areas, including Dover, New Castle County, and Sussex County.