Diocese Investigation: Allegations of a Pay-Out System

By Kody Leibowitz
March 02, 2016

[with video]

[with pdf]

ALTOONA, Pa. - A 147-page grand jury report shows the in-depth nature of the investigation into allegations of child sexual abuse at the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown.

With the reported abuse came reported payments to victims directly from a Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown bishop, according to the grand jury report.

"Behind closed doors, Bishop [Joseph] Adamec took steps that showed the widespread nature of the problem," attorney general Kathleen Kane.

According to Kane, Bishop Adamec allegedly created a pay-out chart. The report describes this as "a guide used to direct the judgments of the diocese in the payment of claims in the purchase of silence".

"He had levels of abuse that he and he alone decided," said Kane.

Kane says there were four levels of payments: level one was considered above the clothing fondling with an alleged payment range of $10,000 to $25,000; level two is described as masturbation allegedly paying victims $15,000 to $40,000; level three is oral sex where the grand jury report alleges Adamec would pay victims of child sex abuse $25,000 to $75,000; and level four would pay victims of child sex abuse $50,000 to $175,000 for alleged intercourse from priests and/or other religious leaders

"The chart is footnoted with 'factors to consider for valuation within a range'. Those factors are: numbers of occurrences; duration of abuse over time; age of victim; use of alcohol or drugs; apparent effect of abuse on victims; and other aggravating circumstances," said Kane.

"The grand jury notes the cold bureaucracy of this chart."

According to the report, special agents of the Office of Attorney General removed more than 115,000 documents from the diocese on August 7th, 2015. Those documents, the report says, include secret archives containing files against priests accused of sexual misconduct. Investigators also reportedly uncovered a secret archive of files containing confidential litigation and accusations of institutional crisis of child sexual abuse.

David Berardinelli, an attorney for Adamec, sent 6 News the following statement:

Public Statement of Bishop Joseph Adamec RE: Grand Jury Report
Bishop Adamec expresses his deepest sympathies to all victims of abuse and deeply regrets any harm that has come to children who were victimized. This is a position, contrary to the tenor of the Grand Jury Report, that he adhered to while in Office and his full, historical record while Bishop of the Diocese reflects it. The Bishop's full record includes his having suspended a number of priests from public ministry and having requested laicization of others.
Bishop Adamec's full record is described in some detail by his Response to the Report and was formulated based on the access he was granted to only pages 106-112 of the Report. He is grateful to Judge Krumenacker for having provided him the opportunity to file such a Response. Before passing judgment about him based on the Grand Jury's Report, the Bishop encourages a reading of the Response that he has made and asks observers to keep in mind that he did not have the opportunity to respond to allegations made in the Report other than those on pages 106-112 to which he was granted access.

6 News asked Adamec's attorney specifically about the payout allegations. Berardinelli said he does not have any additional public comments at this time.


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