Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report Details Thousands of Abuse Cases by Hundreds of Predator Priests

The attorney general of the state of Pennsylvania has just released a report of an extensive grand jury investigation that names more than 300 priest-abusers across six of eight Roman Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania (encompassing 54 of 67 counties).

Just for the record, the Diocese of Pittsburgh website names about 200 active priests in the six-county area. Here are the findings of the report, just in the Diocese of Pittsburgh (which is my home town):


The report lists 99 priests -- including one individual aspiring to be a priest -- who allegedly sexually abused minors in the Diocese of Pittsburgh.

According to the report, the abuse included "grooming and fondling of genitals and/or intimate body parts, as well as penetration of the vagina, mouth, or anus." Some bishops and other diocesan administrators in Pittsburgh, the report said, placed the priests in ministry even though they had knowledge of the conduct.

The report also found that in Pittsburgh, the diocese held discussions with lawyers regarding the sexual conduct of priests with children and made settlements with victims that prevented them from speaking out under the threat of some penalty.

Three cases -- those of Fathers Ernest Paone, George Zirwas and Richard Zula -- were detailed in the report as symbolizing the “wholesale institutional failure that endangered the welfare of children” in the Pittsburgh Diocese.

Father Paone, who served in the late 1950s and 1960s at five separate parishes, was kept in active ministry for 41 years after the Diocese first learned that he was sexually assaulting children.

I have mentioned in the past that two of the four priests that I knew while growing up (and into my early 30s) were removed from the ministry because they had been accused of sexual abuse.

Here is the local (Pittsburgh) newspaper’s account of the overall report:

This latest report, which grew out of the Altoona-Johnstown investigation, covers the remaining six dioceses in the state: Pittsburgh, Allentown, Erie, Greensburg, Harrisburg and Scranton. Together, those six dioceses count more than 1.7 million Catholics — just over half of the state’s Catholic population, according to church estimates.

Over the course of two years, 23 grand jurors met regularly in private to hear testimony from dozens of victims, from perpetrators and, in one instance, from a bishop himself. By the time their work concluded in 2018, the grand jurors — with help from prosecutors — had produced a lengthy report detailing allegations of what Mr. Shapiro has described as widespread abuse and a “systemic cover-up” by church leaders.

The full report identifies 301 “predator priests” and describes efforts by some diocesan administrators to dissuade victims from speaking to police, pressure law enforcement to end investigations or conduct lackluster internal reviews.

But portions of the report also remain blocked from public view, because they are under a protective court seal. A group of roughly two dozen current and former clergy members have asked the state Supreme Court to shield the portions pertaining to them. They argue that those sections are inaccurate or unfairly tarnish their reputations, which are protected under the state constitution.

The high court agreed to release a redacted report while it weighs arguments about whether those sections of the report should eventually be released — or should remain forever shrouded in secrecy. Arguments in that case are scheduled for late September.

Mr. Shapiro has promised to continue to advocate for the release of the full report. He said last week, “Real justice will come about when the full report is released.”

We will be hearing more about this as the hearings are held to determine whether the full unredacted report can be released.

We can only hope that more such investigations are forthcoming.


  1. Just imagine if we extrapolate from that to other states. Not to mention other countries.

    1. Someone should and likely will do that. There are 300 priests in this fraction of Pennsylvania. There are only 200 active priests currently in the Pittsburgh diocese. There are about 37,000 priests in the total US. The numbers have to be staggering.

  2. Begin at 7:00 and listen for just thirty seconds. Things were just beginning to “hatch” when Bahnsen preached this message. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=cSzuHD6vyz8&feature=youtu.be

  3. Watched the entire video. You could wish that all RCCs would have to show it at each celebration of the mass. There’s no way such abuses would occur in any denomination that stood on the word of God.

    1. I’m referring here to the video regarding the grand jury investigation.

  4. Why not make restitution so severe that the synagogues of Satan have to give up their property?

  5. Wow! Sure Protestants have their problems with this but, due to their centralized nature the Catholics have a conspiracy to commit sexual abuse and cover it up of unimaginable proportions.