Challenging a grand jury is rare, but some legal observers say it might make sense

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

July 6, 2018

By Julian Routh

The legal battle over the release of a report on sexual abuse has called into question the very nature of the grand jury that investigated and wrote about decades of abuse in Catholic dioceses across Pennsylvania.

The Roman Catholic dioceses of Greensburg and Harrisburg last year sought to shut down the statewide grand jury investigating sexual abuse by priests in six dioceses, including their own, contending that the creation of the grand jury lacked a legal justification. And in filings on behalf of more than two dozen clergy petitioners, lawyers on Thursday challenged the release of the mammoth report, claiming it leaves their clients “wrongly accused and falsely implicated.”

According to two Pennsylvania legal experts, the courtroom maneuvering over this grand jury’s report is unprecedented in its strategy, and has triggered a complex discussion about the rights of the accused and the defense of their reputations. The challenges have been both to the validity of the grand jury itself and to the way in which it has done its work.

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