Pennsylvania attorney general, lawyers for clergy, argue over grand jury report release

Associated Press via Morning Call

July 5, 2018

By Mark Scolforo

[See the docket.]

Pennsylvania’s attorney general and lawyers for current and retired priests came down on opposite sides over an effort by news organizations, including The Morning Call, to unseal an extensive report into child sexual abuse and attempts to cover it up in several Roman Catholic dioceses.

Attorney General Josh Shapiro said in a filing to the state Supreme Court supporting the release that his office opposes requests by unnamed parties to present their own evidence, question witnesses and rewrite the grand jury report “in accordance with their preferred view of the facts.” He argued the report should not be delayed, calling it a matter of exceptional public interest.

“Hundreds of victims, thousands of parishioners and many members of the community are awaiting the report,” Shapiro wrote. “The longer it is held, the greater the risk of undermining public confidence in the judicial system.”

Shapiro called the priests’ criticism of the report “nothing more than a desperate attempt to stop the public from learning the truth about their abhorrent conduct.”

Lawyers for nearly two dozen unnamed current and retired clergy members filed a group response that described the report as replete with errors and “improper assertions,” arguing that without revisions the report will irreparably harm their reputations and deny them the due process the law guarantees.

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