The names of 11 priests cited in the bombshell Pennsylvania grand jury report on child sex abuse will be kept secret to protect their reputations, the state’s Supreme Court ruled Monday.
The grand jury report, released in mid-August after a two-year investigation, identified credible records of more than 1,000 children being abused by 301 priests in six of the eight Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania. The 11 priests were kept anonymous because they contested the allegations against them as false. The Supreme Court decision said identifying these priests would raise due process issues.
“In our prior opinion authored by Chief Justice Saylor, we stressed that an individual’s right to his or her personal reputation was regarded by the framers of our organic charter as a fundamental individual human right — one of the ‘inherent rights of mankind,’” the court decision reads.
The majority of the disclosed crimes took place years ago and were covered up, making it difficult to hold the perpetrators accountable since victims of child sex abuse in Pennsylvania only have until their 50th birthday to file criminal charges and until their 30th birthday to file civil lawsuits.
After the grand jury report was filed a few months ago, Pennsylvania lawmakers proposed a bill to extend the statute of limitations on sexual abuse cases to allow victims more time to sue or bring criminal charges. It passed the House in late September and is awaiting a vote from a state Senate committee.
“As a consequence of the cover-up, almost every instance of abuse we found is too old to be
prosecuted,” the original report reads. “But that is not to say there are no more predators.” The grand jury found two recent reports of child sex abuse in two different dioceses within the last decade.
The 1358-page grand jury report, citing names, where they served and the accusations, uncovered an epidemic scale of clerical sexual abuse in Pennsylvania. The state’s attorney general is pushing to have the report released with all the priests' names, unredacted.
Cover: Victims of clergy sexual abuse and their family members react as Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro speaks during a news conference at the Pennsylvania Capitol in Harrisburg, Pa., Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2018. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)