The Maryland Attorney General released the results of its four-year investigation of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, finding that hundreds of children and teens were abused for decades by priests whose actions were hushed-up by church officials.
We recently discussed the shocking preliminary findings of the investigation driven by former Attorney General Brian Frosh. The original report discussed evidence collected through a grand jury subpoena, which required court approval for the report to be publicly released. In its Motion to Disclose the original report, the attorney general reported “no parish was safe, some congregations and schools were assigned multiple abusive priests…” The report was finally released in early April, the latest in a series of findings in the US and around the world about the sexual abuse perpetrated by the Roman Catholic church on innocent parishioners and their families.
The report is a sober, straightforward account of the abuse and torture suffered by more than 600 children at the hands of at least 156 known perpetrators. The report suggests that the number of victims is far higher. The report begins with the list of the names of the perpetrators. Throughout the report, the children and others abused by church officials are not referred to by name, even if they have publicly acknowledged the abuse. They are referred to as “victims” in the report, with the strict intent of emphasizing the criminal nature of the abuse they suffered.
Noting, “[t]he incontrovertible history uncovered by this investigation is one of pervasive and
persistent abuse by priests and other Archdiocese personnel,” below are some findings of the investigation:
- Church practitioners often preyed upon children who were experiencing problems at home, who were shy, or particularly devoted to the church such as choir members, Scout troops, those in church youth organizations, and those who served as altar members.
- Children were told their abuse was “God’s will,” and that telling anyone would lead to damnation of them and their families.
- Sexual abuse and rape were characterized as “rough housing.” When accused, predatory priests would either deny the behavior or rely on the church to support them.
- The church hierarchy persistently sympathized with abusers, characterizing the abuse as akin to alcoholism. If the abuse was undeniable, the perpetrator could be quietly transferred, usually to a different parish where they would begin their attacks on children anew. Some priests were sent for “treatment” in different states, such as New Mexico, where they continued to abuse children before returning to the Archdiocese of Baltimore to continue preying on children.
- Many parishes had multiple abusers who lived and worked together. The report states the duration and depth of abuse experienced by parishioners was possible only because of the complicity of church leadership.
The Archdiocese of Baltimore is currently composed of 153 missions and parishes, 59 schools, 26 Catholic orders of women, and 24 Catholic orders of men. There are also two seminaries in Baltimore City and Emmitsburg.
The report details the abuse and accounts suffered by innocent children and teens who mistakenly placed their faith and personal safety in the hands of a Church that did nothing to protect them. The report validates the pain, damage, and abuse claimed by the survivors who have come forward—and those that remain quiet about their experience.
While most of the predatory priests named by the report have died, the Maryland legislature recently passed The Child victims Act of 2023. The Act was signed into law by Governor Wes Moore and will go into effect in October of this year. Children who were abused by clergy, or other perpetrators, are now able to sue their abuser—or the institution that supported the abuse—in a court of law.
While money cannot rectify the physical and emotional damage inflicted by sexual abuse, it can shed light on a devastating wrong. If you are a survivor of childhood or clergy sexual abuse—reach out to our legal team for compassionate, dedicated legal representation. Regardless of age, the law has been changed to support restitution for victims of these terrible crimes. Reach out to us today—we can help.
Award winning injury attorneys pursue compensation on your behalf following clergy abuse
Schochor, Staton, Goldberg and Cardea, P.A. is a trusted law firm representing clients who were injured and traumatized through sexual abuse by the clergy or others. Even if you have never spoken about the crime, we can help. Contact us or call 410-234-1000 to schedule a free consultation. We have offices in Washington, DC and Baltimore, Maryland.