Grand jury report on priest sex abuse needs to be public, AG says
Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro plans to take legal action Monday to object to the continued suppression of a grand jury report on child sex abuse in Catholic dioceses across the state.
The grand jury investigation examined decades of sexual abuse reports in the six dioceses — including Greensburg and Pittsburgh.
The state Supreme Court this week blocked the release of the report to give unindicted people named in it a chance to challenge any findings.
“The people of Pennsylvania have a right to see the report, know who is attempting to block its release and why, and to hear the voices of the victims of sexual abuse within the Church,” Shapiro said in a statement.
Shapiro spokesman Joe Grace said he couldn’t provide more details about what Shapiro planned to do Monday because all court filings in the case remain under seal.
Under grand jury secrecy rules, the names of those challenging its report also remain sealed.
The Pittsburgh-based grand jury met for 22 months and completed its work at the end of April.
The 800-plus page grand jury report was given to officials in the dioceses of Pittsburgh, Greensburg, Harrisburg, Erie, Allentown and Scranton in May. Spokesmen for six dioceses, where officials are believed to be crafting their responses, said church officials had no objection to its release.
People named in the report who weren’t indicted petitioned the Supreme Court, saying they were denied due process to defend their reputations.
Noting that reputation is a right under the state constitution and that some petitions have yet to be reviewed, the justices said they will review their temporary stay on the report once those challenges “can be resolved, or an informed and fair determination can be made as to whether a continued stay is warranted,” according to the unsigned court opinion.
Initially, Shapiro didn’t oppose delaying the release of the report, but a news release issued Friday said the attorney general was planning to act Monday in response to an invitation in the opinion to “lodge an objection to a continued state” of the report’s release.
Abuse victims who testified before the investigative panel and attorneys who represented them said they were shocked when the Supreme Court blocked the release of the document.
The court intervened to block the release of the report last week after Judge Norman A. Krumenacker III, the grand jury supervisor, denied a series of petitions filed by unindicted individuals seeking an opportunity to cross-examine their accusers.
The Supreme Court’s chief justice, Thomas Saylor, declined to comment through a spokeswoman, and lawyers for the unnamed people challenging the report did not respond to requests for comment.
Meanwhile, seven news organizations, including The Associated Press, on Friday filed a motion to intervene in the case in a bid to argue that the court should release the report, contending that it is required by law. If the court decides it needs more time to consider the legal challenges, it could immediately order the report’s release with only those parts that are in question shielded from view, lawyers for the news organizations wrote.