Proceedings related to report on clergy abuse in Baltimore archdiocese remains private

WBAL-TV, NBC-11 [Baltimore MD]

December 6, 2022

By David Collins

A Baltimore judge is now ruling all proceedings related to the Maryland Attorney General’s report on clergy sex abuse remain confidential.

A distinction: The judge’s order seals the report; however, it does not block its release. A decision whether to do so has not been made.

“To seal the proceedings about this report is very difficult for us survivors,” said David Lorenz, Maryland director of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

Legal arguments will be held behind closed doors and all documents sealed in the case asking a judge to release the Maryland Attorney General’s 456-page investigation into child sex abuse within the Baltimore archdiocese.

A judge’s ruling is necessary because the probe was conducted through a grand jury and state law keeps grand jury materials confidential without a court order.

Clergy abuse survivors consider Friday’s decision a setback because they will not have an opportunity to be heard.

“It’s like someone closed the door and said, ‘You can’t come in, and when I come up with an answer, I will tell you and you won’t be able to have any influence on that answer,'” Lorenz said.

The AG’s report documents a history of sexual abuse as well as a cover up and complicit silence by church leaders. Investigators found 158 clergy in the archdiocese abused more than 600 people over the past 80 years. The victims, both boys and girls, ranged in age from pre-school to young adults.

The archdiocese declined to comment on the judge’s order. The motion to seal comes from attorneys representing people named in the report but not accused of sexual abuse. Some of those attorney’s fees are being paid by the archdiocese.

“It is most likely, I can’t say for sure, but it is most likely, it is someone who passively or actively enabled the abuse,” Lorenz said.

Abuse survivors consider the release affirmation. They said it could lead to criminal indictments and or to civil lawsuits.

“It is not over for them. It’s not. It’s a living hell for many of them and it’s time we step up and help them. It’s extremely callous for anybody to say this problem is over because you have left survivors with a lifetime sentence of having to deal with that abuse,” Lorenz said.

In the coming days, a group of lawyers for SNAP will be filing a motion seeking the full release of the AG’s report.