In 2002, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops announced a plan to address the widespread clergy sexual abuse that had been exposed by the Boston Globe. Under the new standards, the church would ban priests who abused children from working in the church; perform background checks on any church staff members working with children; and require Bishops to report all allegations of abuse to law enforcement officials.
Yet 16 years later, the Catholic Church continues to disregard its own rules, allowing abusive clergy members to remain priests and to interact with parishioners of all ages. Many dangerous predators are thus left in a position to harm other children while escaping justice for their past crimes.
In Pennsylvania, the York Daily Record took a deeper look into how the Church has honored policies set forth by the U.S Conference of Catholic Bishops. It found several sobering trends. Several dioceses are not complying with regulations requiring them to:
In what may be the most disturbing discovery of all, the York Daily Record found that only around half of the nearly 200 dioceses operating in the United States have released lists of abusive priests as required by the Bishops’ own regulations.
A Pennsylvania grand jury report released earlier this year named 301 priests accused or suspected of abuse. Many of these were hailed as respected members of the clergy in their obituaries. Seventy-eight of them remain alive and are still on the church payroll.
The process to defrock a priest is a long and tedious one that requires approval from the Pope. That slow process, combined with church officials’ failure to alert appropriate civil and criminal authorities of child abuse, allows the statute of limitations to expire on many cases, effectively granting abusers a clean slate and the freedom to continue their misconduct.
Under Pennsylvania’s current statute of limitations, only two of the more than 300 priests named as abusers in the grand jury report face possible criminal prosecution. To address the demand for justice for survivors of clergy abuse going back decades, several Pennsylvania lawmakers are currently working to remove the statute of limitations on these and similar cases. For their part, victims say that counting on the Church to police its own has clearly not worked. They want real justice for themselves and other survivors.
At Williams Cedar, we fight to hold predators responsible for the emotional and physical pain and suffering they inflicted on innocent children in Pennsylvania and across the country.
Regardless of how long it has been since the time you were first victimized, the Allentown clergy abuse lawyers at Williams Cedar will do everything possible to obtain justice for you and your family. We treat every client with sensitivity and compassion. We know you have been through enough and we are here to help. To schedule a free consultation, call us at 215-557-0099 or submit an online inquiry today. With offices in Haddonfield, New Jersey and Philadelphia, we proudly serve clients throughout Allentown, Scranton, Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, Greensburg, Johnstown, Eerie, Scranton, and Wilkes-Barre.