“We, the members of this grand jury, need you to hear this,” begins the nearly 900-page report released Tuesday by a grand jury that spent two years investigating reports of sexual abuse in six Pennsylvania dioceses of the Roman Catholic Church over a period of 70 years.
The report, which says there were more than 1,000 identifiable victims and perhaps thousands more, is the broadest examination yet by a government agency in the United States of child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. Here are some excerpts.
A litany of disturbing cases
The grand jury members documented a wide variety of abuses by priests and others within the church, as well as creative ways of covering up or denying accusations. “Even of those odious stories, some stood out,” the report reads.
Those cases include a priest who the grand jury says raped a 7-year-old girl while visiting her in the hospital after she got her tonsils out. Another priest made a 9-year-old boy give him oral sex, “then rinsed out the boy’s mouth with holy water to purify him.”
The grand jury used strong language to hold leaders of the church accountable for enabling and protecting the abusers.
Church leaders frequently protected and sympathized with the abusers, not their victims, the report states.
Looking the other way
One of the cases that the grand jury reports on in great detail involves the Rev. Edward R. Graff, who served as a priest for 45 years, including 35 in the diocese of Allentown. During his years in ministry, Father Graff raped scores of children, the grand jury report says.
The church had documented numerous reports of Father Graff’s abuse over the years, the grand jury report says, and yet when they came to light publicly, the church downplayed and denied its knowledge.
In 2002, Father Graff was arrested in Briscoe County, Tex., where he had continued his ministry, for sexually abusing a 15-year-old boy, the grand jury report says. He died of injuries from an accident while in a Texas prison awaiting trial.
One family, many victims
Another case documented by the grand jury involved a priest in the Harrisburg diocese who was accused of abusing many members of a large family in his parish during the 1980s.
Abusers working together
The grand jury reported that it had uncovered a ring of predatory priests in the Pittsburgh diocese who “shared intelligence or information regarding victims,” created pornography using the victims, and exchanged victims among themselves. “This group of priests used whips, violence and sadism in raping their victims,” the report states.
“George still has the cross and it was shown to the grand jury,” the report states.