2nd Grand Jury Impaneled to Investigate Alleged Sex-Abuse by Priests

By Joseph R. Daughen
Philadelphia Daily News [Philadelphia PA]
November 3, 2003

A second city grand jury has been impaneled to continue the investigation into alleged sexual abuse by priests in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

The grand jury that was convened 18 months ago at the request of District Attorney Lynne Abraham ended its term on Sept. 29 and turned the results of its secret probe over to the new panel.

Common Pleas Judge C. Darnell Jones supervised the first grand jury. The Daily News was unable to determine if he is supervising the second.

It was not known how long the probe would continue.

The life of a grand jury generally is one year, but the panel's service can be extended for six months, as happened with the just-dismissed panel.

Cathie Abookire, spokeswoman for Abraham, refused to comment. Archdiocesan spokeswoman Catherine L. Rossi also declined comment.

Since Abraham disclosed on April 24, 2002, that she would investigate the allegations of abuse, prosecutors have succeeded in keeping the probe under wraps.

"They've been incredibly secretive about it, which I suppose is the way it's supposed to be," said John Salveson, when the first grand jury's term was extended to September.

Salveson, 47, is director of the Philadelphia chapter of Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests.

He is not personally involved in the local investigation, but grew up on Long Island, where he said he had been abused when he was 13 by a priest.

"I know people who have talked" to the grand jury, said Sal-veson. "The only impression I have is they are very serious."

Abraham called for the grand jury investigation after the archdiocese said that an inquiry dating back 50 years disclosed 35 cases in which there was credible evidence that priests had molested minors.

The archdiocese did not indicate how many of the 35 cases had occurred in Philadelphia. The archdiocese also includes the four suburban counties. Abraham has said her office was looking only at Philadelphia cases.

None of the four suburban counties has launched formal investigations into alleged abuse by priests. But criminal probes have been reported in Boston, Los Angeles and Phoenix as a result of the scandals that erupted nationally.

"We intend to have a full and wide-ranging inquiry," Abraham said, in announcing the probe. She added that her office would examine "all allegations involving priests, whether they are dead, dismissed or retired."

The archdiocese pledged its cooperation with the investigation, but added that it viewed the convening of a grand jury with "surprise and, quite frankly, disappointment."


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.