Grand jury: Hundreds of children abused by priests in Pa. diocese
By Myles Snyder
March 1, 2016
ALTOONA, Pa. (WHTM) – A grand jury says priests assigned to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown sexually abused hundreds of children for at least 40 years.
Attorney General Kathleen Kane announced the grand jury’s findings on Tuesday. She said the widespread abuse involved at least 50 priests and other religious leaders.
The grand jury’s 147-page report further alleges that two bishops concealed the abuse to protect the church’s image, allowing the crimes to continue for decades.
“The heinous crimes these children endured are absolutely unconscionable,” Kane said at a news conference. “These predators desecrated a sacred trust and preyed upon their victims in the very places where they should have felt most safe.
Kane said while the investigation is ongoing, none of the criminal acts detailed in the grand jury’s report can be prosecuted. She said some of the alleged abusers have died, deeply traumatized victims are unable to testify in court, and the statute of limitations has expired.
The grand jury’s report calls for abolishing the statute of limitations for sexual crimes against children.
Kane’s office said agents searched the diocese office last August and seized more than 115,000 documents, including a “secret archive” of files on priests accused of sexual misconduct.
According to the report, the documents revealed that bishops James Hogan and Joseph Adamec, the men who led the diocese between the mid-1960s through 2011, were at the forefront of the cover-up.
Hogan, according to the grand jury, intervened when police began investigating a priest, Joseph Gaborek, in the early 1980s. Hogan assured a police investigator he would send Gaborek to an institution, and then sent the priest on sabbatical to a school for boys where no psychological or psychiatric treatment was available. Gaborek was later reassigned to another parish.
The diocese’s own files noted Gaborek would have been prosecuted and convicted if the bishop had not intervened.
The grand jury found Hogan also intervened in the case of now-deceased Francis B. McCaa, a monsignor accused of fondling at least 15 boys. The report says prosecutors decided against criminal charges when McCaa was transferred to work as a chaplain at a West Virginia hospital.
The parishes of the Altoona-Johnstown diocese are located within Bedford, Blair, Cambria, Centre, Clinton, Fulton, Huntingdon and Somerset counties.