By Dave Sutor
The Tribune-Democrat is counting down the top stories of 2016, as determined by the newsroom staff who covered them. One story appeared each day in print and e-editions through the end of the year.
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Altoona–Johnstown allegedly covered up the sexual abuse of children for decades.
Victims were violated by at least 50 priests and other religious leaders, while the church, led by former Bishops James Hogan and Joseph Adamec, reportedly took steps to protect the accused from facing justice, according to a grand jury report released by the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General in March.
The report, culled from “secret archives” and interviews, rocked the diocese and local Catholic community.
“As wolves disguised as the shepherds themselves – these men stole the innocence of children by sexually preying upon the most innocent and vulnerable members of our society and of the Catholic faith,” the document states.
However, due to Pennsylvania’s statute of limitations laws, many of the living accused priests might never face criminal charges or civil complaints. Victims in Pennsylvania who were under the age of 18 when abuse occurred can file civil charges until age 30. Criminal charges can be brought until age 30 for individuals born before Aug. 27, 2002. The age limit extends to 50 for alleged victims born after Aug. 27, 2002.
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