'Predator priests' accused of sexually abusing more than 1,000 children

'Predator priests' accused of sexually abusing more than 1,000 children

More than 300 "predator" priests in Pennsylvania are accused of abusing over 1,000 children across seven decades, a grand jury said Tuesday in a devastating report that decried a systematic cover-up by the Catholic Church. The grand jury says it believes the "real number" of abused children might be "in the thousands" since some records were lost and victims were afraid to come forward.

The grand jury report says the diocese in Erie, Penn. and the diocese in Hawaii knew that Hannon had "admittedly abused at least 20 youths" who were between the ages of 12 and 19.

It was not immediately clear how many fresh charges could be brought following what the report called the most comprehensive to date about child sex abuse within the Catholic church, investigating all but two of the USA state's dioceses.

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In most cases the statute of limitations has expired, meaning charges can not be brought. While the almost two-year probe has yielded charges against two clergymen - including a priest who has since pleaded guilty, and another who allegedly forced his accuser to say confession after each sex assault - the vast majority of priests already identified as perpetrators are either dead or are likely to avoid arrest because their alleged crimes are too old to prosecute under state law.

"We are sick over all the crimes that will go unpunished and uncompensated, " the grand jury said.

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The priest hasn't previously been identified as among the dozens accused of sexually abusing children in Hawaii in previous decades.

Shapiro vowed to go to court to get the redactions in the report removed.

"It was none of those things". "Ever since I first met victims of clergy child sexual abuse in 1988, I have seen the vast pain that this crime causes to its victims, to their loved ones and to the heart of Jesus". Wuerl, who was bishop of the Pittsburgh diocese from 1988 to 2006, disputed the allegations.

The grand jury scrutinized abuse allegations in dioceses that minister to more than half the state's 3.2 million Catholics. In 2002, The Boston Globe revealed that Catholic authorities in the Boston Archdiocese had engaged in a massive cover-up of sex crimes committed by area priests, and investigations in other parts of the country have since uncovered similar patterns of sexual abuse by members of the Catholic clergy.

"To make it easier to target their victims, the priests gave their favored boys gifts - gold crosses to wear as necklaces".

The abuse ranged from groping to rape. Many bishops, including future-Cardinal, the late Anthony Bevilaqua, were accused of continuing priests they knew to be unsafe to children in active ministry.

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In order to prevent the Catholic Church from suffering bad publicity or financial liability, the panel claimed that a series of bishops and other diocesan leaders attempted to hide the alleged abuse.

Washington County District Attorney John Pettit, filed the sexual abuse charges against three Roman Catholic priests for allegedly molesting two brothers who were altar boys, and accused the church of foot -dragging during the investigation. The pictures were added to a collection of child pornography and shared on church grounds. These documents, from the dioceses" own "Secret Archives, ' formed the backbone of this investigation, " he said at a news conference in Harrisburg.

"The priests against whom there were allegations during my time there, those priests we dealt with", Wuerl said.

Despite the Catholic Church's efforts to establish internal review processes and report abuse to law enforcement more promptly, the grand jury said "individual leaders of the church have largely escaped public accountability". The state Supreme Court said the public had a right to see it, but ruled the names of priests and others who objected to the findings would be blacked out pending a September hearing on their claims.

Eighteen U.S. dioceses and religious orders in the U.S. have filed for bankruptcy protection during the ongoing sexual abuse crisis, according to the website BishopAccountability.org, which tracks sexual abuse cases. Sweeney was the first priest convicted as a result of the grand jury and a priest in Erie has pending charges, but the state's statute of limitations for child abuse charges could prevent some prosecutions, especially with numerous allegations going back decades.

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