Baltimore abuse survivors file request to make abuse report public

Catholic News Agency - EWTN [Denver CO]

December 8, 2022

By Jonah McKeown

A group of clerical sexual abuse survivors has filed a request with the Baltimore Circuit Court in an attempt to make public a recently sealed attorney general’s report that claims to chronicle hundreds of instances of clerical abuse.

At issue is a 456-page report compiled by the office of Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh, which consists of information given by the Archdiocese of Baltimore along with information gathered from interviews, and which claims to identify more than 600 victims of clerical abuse in the archdiocese dating back eight decades. It is currently unclear whether the report will lead to any new criminal charges.

A judge in Baltimore last week ordered all proceedings, filings, and communications related to the release of the report on clerical sexual abuse to be made confidential. Going forward, the legal processes of releasing the full report will not be disclosed to the public because of the confidentiality order. Should the full report be released, pending Judge Anthony Vittoria’s decision, it will likely be redacted.

In a legal motion dated Nov. 17, Frosh had asked a judge to release the documents provided by the archdiocese, which were given in response to a January 2019 subpoena from a grand jury. By state law, a judge has to approve the documents’ release since they were obtained by subpoena.

At a joint press conference Dec. 7, a group of abuse survivors and their attorneys announced they had filed a motion in support of the Maryland Office of Attorney General’s recent motion to publicly disclose the report to the public.

The Archdiocese of Baltimore, which is paying the legal fees for an anonymous group of people named in the report but who were not accused of abuse, said it “does not and will not oppose the report’s release.”

Among the abuse survivors present at the Dec. 7 press conference were two women who are former students of Baltimore’s Archbishop Keough High School — where allegations of abuse by a former chaplain came to light in the 1990s — and who are featured in the Netflix documentary “The Keepers” about the murder of a nun who ministered at the school. The women say they provided information for Frosh’s report but have not yet been allowed to see the finished product.

Frosh says the report names 115 priests who were prosecuted for sexual abuse and/or identified publicly by the archdiocese as having been “credibly accused” of sexual abuse. It also includes an additional 43 priests — 30 of whom are deceased, and the identities of the rest redacted — accused of sexual abuse “but not identified publicly by the archdiocese,” for a total of 158 names.

The archdiocese’s online list of credibly accused clergy includes 152 names, including many priests from other dioceses or religious orders and 17 religious brothers who served in or had a connection to the archdiocese, the Catholic Review reported. The list was last updated in June.

Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore apologized to victims of abuse in a November letter and reiterated the archdiocese’s current zero-tolerance policy for sexual abuse.

Addressing the apparent discrepancy between the number of priests named in the attorney general’s report and the number of credibly accused priests listed by the archdiocese, Lori said that the archdiocesan list does not include the names of priests or brothers who died before a single accusation of child abuse was received, unless the allegation could be corroborated by a third party or unless a second allegation was made against the same deceased cleric.