September 22, 2005
PHILADELPHIA (AP) - A three-year grand jury investigation of the Philadelphia Archdiocese, the longest known inquiry in the national clergy sex abuse crisis, ended Wednesday with scathing allegations that cardinals and other churchmen had conspired to protect offenders.
However, the grand jury said it could bring no indictments because of time limits on prosecuting the claims and because the Roman Catholic archdiocese is not a corporation under state law. Only one priest in the archdiocese has been indicted.
… The grand jury was unsparing in its condemnation of Bevilacqua, who retired in 2003, and his predecessor, the late Cardinal John Krol, who was archbishop of Philadelphia from 1961-88.
The two men knew that priests were molesting children but conducted bogus “non-investigations” designed to avoid uncovering abuse, while they and their aides transferred known abusers among parishes, the grand jury said.
The 418-page report names 63 priests “whose abusive behavior was well-documented in archdiocesan files and by witnesses who testified” before the panel. All had multiple victims, and many more abusers certainly exist, the grand jury said.
The examples of abuse cited in the report included an 11-year-old girl who was allegedly raped and impregnated by a priest, who took her for an abortion, and a priest who falsely told a 12-year-old boy that the child’s mother knew he was being raped repeatedly and allowed it.
“The evidence is clear. This reaches the top - the very top of our archdiocese,” Philadelphia District Attorney Lynne Abraham said at a news conference. “Regrettably, the perpetrators of these crimes and the people that protected them will never face the penalties they deserve.”
Unsurprisingly, the archdiocese continued to defend its child-molestors, calling the report “discriminatory” and “a vile, mean-spirited diatribe,” and accusing investigators of “bullying” former Cardinal Joseph Bevilacqua. Ironically, Cardinal Justin Rigali, who succeeded Bevilacqua, then went on to offer his “heartfelt and sincere apologies” to the victims at a press conference. Must be a new definition of “heartfelt and sincere.”
There have now been at least 11 grand-jury investigations of dioceses over the past three years, but so far no criminal charges against bishops for failing to curb abuse.
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