Survivors of abuse in Catholic Church demand attorney general release findings

WJZ-TV - CBS 2 [Baltimore MD]

August 2, 2022

By Ava-joye Burnett

For nearly four years, the Maryland Office of the Attorney General has been investigating allegations of widespread sex abuse against children within the Catholic Church.

But survivors who said they endured the abuse decades ago tell WJZ they are tired of waiting for answers and they’re worried time is running out.

These survivors want Attorney General Brian Frosh to release the findings of his investigation into child sex abuse because it’s been almost four years.

Members of the group SNAP – The Survivor’s Network of Those Abused by Priests – also want indictments for priests who allegedly abused kids and anyone who helped with a cover-up.

As children, the survivors hid the secrets of their alleged abuse.

As adults, they’re openly sharing the details of the pain they say was caused by priests in the Catholic Church.

David Lorenz is the Maryland director of SNAP. He said his abuse happened in another state when he was 16 years old. He told WJZ it took another 16 years for him to tell someone about it.

“He had a house all by himself in a big mansion with lots of bedrooms,” Lorenz said as he described the priest he said abused him. “And so I just crashed that night and was planning on going home the next morning, and he came into my room and I checked out during the middle of the abuse. I didn’t know what to do with myself. I didn’t know how to stop it.”

As Lorenz and other survivors call for the result the investigation, they are voicing concerns that priorities may change when a new attorney general is elected.

“I’m worried that if this isn’t completed by the time he leaves, whoever follows him in is not going to pick up the ball,” said Lorenz.

The history of allegations of sex abuse within the Catholic Church is one that is familiar in the Baltimore area.

Jean Hargadon Wehner is a survivor who spoke outside the attorney general’s office. She recalled the moment she finally opened up to someone she trusted.

“So she said, ‘You don’t need to talk, I’ll asked you questions, and you shake your head yes or no,'” recalled said Hargadon Wehner. “And so she began to ask me, ‘Is someone making you do something you don’t want to do?’ And I shook my head – Yes. And she said, ‘Is it someone that I might know?’ And I shook my head – Yes. And she said, ‘Would it be the priest?’ And I shook my head – Yes,” 

The group is worried other children could be at risk and that’s why they want immediate indictments if there’s proof of abuse or a cover-up.

“I feel that ultimately, we have been left with survivors supporting survivors, and that is where I find justice comes from the community,” said Hargadon Wehner.

Pennsylvania had a similar investigation into the Catholic Church and that took two years. Maryland’s investigation has been going on for nearly four years.

Frosh’s office said there could be an update in the coming months, but they had no further comment.

The Archdiocese of Baltimore said they are cooperating with the investigation.