(Washington Post) — More than 300 Catholic priests across Pennsylvania sexually abused children over seven decades, protected by a hierarchy of church leaders who covered it up, according to a sweeping grand jury report released Tuesday.
The investigation, one of the broadest inquiries into church sex abuse in U.S. history, identified 1,000 children who were victims, but reported that there probably are thousands more.
“Priests were raping little boys and girls, and the men of God who were responsible for them not only did nothing; they hid it all. For decades,” the grand jury wrote in its report.
The 18-month investigation covered six of the state’s dioceses — Allentown, Erie, Greensburg, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh and Scranton — and follows other state grand jury reports that revealed abuse and coverups in two other dioceses. The grand jury reviewed more than 2 million documents, including from the “secret archives” — what church leaders referred to the reports of abuse they hid from public for decades, state Attorney General Josh Shapiro said at a news conference Tuesday.