Maryland Attorney General’s Office Report on Child Sexual Abuse in the Archdiocese of Baltimore was released on Wednesday during Holy Week.
“The staggering pervasiveness of the abuse itself underscores the culpability of the Church hierarchy,” the authors wrote.
The report is a nearly 500-page compilation of credibly-found rapes, depraved sexual abuse, and torture of more than 600 children and young adults committed by 156 clergy and other Church officials over 80 years.
Some diocesan officials’ identities are redacted and the Catholic Church paid at least some of the legal costs for a group of people who sought to have their names shielded.
The Catholic diocese authorities covered up their institutional depravity, and hence, allowed the abuse to continue found the report, which is not unlike similar findings of dioceses’ investigation which imploded since the 2002 investigation of the Boston diocese and then bled into other investigations globally of the last two decades.
The investigations found that priests who abused children were often known to the diocese, yet little was done to stop them.
Father Lawrence Brett admitted in 1964 to abusing a boy in Connecticut. Church officials there sent him to a New Mexico treatment center that was established just a few years earlier. Once there, Brett continued to abuse boys, and was transferred later to Calvert Hall College High School in Baltimore. Brett continued to abuse at least 20 more boys, the report states. Brett died in 2010.
Deacon Leo O’Hara of Baltimore confessed in 1987 to having molested more than 100 children since 1953. The Anne Arundel County State’s Attorney’s Office did not charge him, the report states, because investigators could not identify any of O’Hara’s victims. He died in 1994.
One priest chained and whipped boys for his own gratification. Multiple Xaverian Brothers orally and anally raped a teen-age boy over several years in the 1940s.
The Most Rev. William E. Lori, archbishop of Baltimore since 2012, said the “enormous” history of abuse represents a moment of “shock” and “horror,” for himself and Catholics everywhere.
How sincere that comment is will be proven in the future because how the Catholic Church has recently responded to Maryland legislation addressing statute of limitations for victims has revealed that the Catholic Church may be more interested in protecting its assets.
The Baltimore archdiocese covers Baltimore City and nine counties in Central and Western Maryland.
The Maryland General Assembly, spurred on by this child sexual abuse report, sent a bill Wednesday to Democratic Governor Wes Moore’s desk that would make it easier for survivors to sue the institutions that employed their abusers.
Victims lobbied the attorney general’s office to start the investigation after the Pennsylvania attorney general produced a similar report in 2018.
Then Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh launched this probe.
Investigators interviewed hundreds of survivors and pored over hundreds of thousands of the church’s “historical secret archives,” which is key to the the roadmap of the coverup.
According to the report, police, prosecutors, the media, and at least one judge treated the church with deference when they became aware of abuse. The report found that they were uninterested in learning what diocesan leadership knew and when they knew it.
That is a pattern across the Catholic Church - not just in the U.S. but worldwide for decades.
In 1987, the head of the Baltimore state’s attorney’s office’s sex crimes unit declined to prosecute Father Robert Newman, who admitted to abusing 12 boys between the ages of 9 to 15 over a 15-year period. That unnamed prosecutor said she saw “the value of trying to keep a man like this in ministry,” according to the report. Newman was sent to a treatment center and then was assigned to the Archdiocese of Hartford, Connecticut, where he remained a priest until his abuse was made public in 2002.
The report called for the state legislature to amend Maryland’s civil statute of limitations for child sex abuse.
Just 40 minutes after the report’s release, the Maryland Senate passed the Child Victims Act, which would remove the statute of limitations on such lawsuits. Governor Moore has vowed to sign it.
The Maryland Catholic Conference, which represents all three dioceses operating in the state, opposed that statute of limitations bill at every turn and is expected to challenge it in court.
Subpoenas have been issued to two other dioceses that include parts of Maryland: The Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., and the Diocese of Wilmington, Delaware, which covers part of the Eastern Shore of Maryland.
“While our focus has been on completing the arduous, difficult task,” of the Baltimore report, Maryland Attorney General Anthony Brown told reporters - “We did not sit idle when it came to the [other dioceses]. So, those investigations are ongoing.”
The full report can be read here.
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