The Atlanta Journal-Constitution [Atlanta GA]
March 30, 2023
By Sheila Poole
There were no pending criminal cases resulting from the report.
Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr on Wednesday called past coverups of sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta and the Diocese of Savannah “horrific and indefensible.”
Carr, who is Roman Catholic, addressed the findings of a 267-page report released last week by the Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council of Georgia that investigated decades of suspected abuse in the Roman Catholic church in the state.
In a tweet, Carr wrote that the report “confirmed what many have feared and suspected” about such allegations. While the report, he tweeted, “did not uncover any current, ongoing or unreported sexual abuse by priests, it did reveal historical criminal allegations in Georgia against priests.”
In all the situations contained in the third-party report either the criminal statute of limitations had expired, the accused was deceased, the allegations had been reported to the proper authorities or the accused had been prosecuted by the appropriate jurisdiction. Therefore, there were no pending criminal cases resulting from the report.
The report, which was ordered by Carr in 2019 gave details of alleged abuse of minors. It shows that before 2002, the Catholic Church in Georgia “knew about and enabled sexual abuse of minors by its priests, prevented the discovery and investigation of these acts by public and civil authorities, and relocated priests after they were accused of sexually abusing children.”
Victim advocates, though, have been critical of the report that they say gives the impression sexual abuse is no longer an issue.
David Pittman, director of Together We Heal, a nonprofit that advocates for survivors of childhood sexual abuse, said survivors are still left powerless to get any measure of justice.
“Now, as its always been with the Catholic Church, the focus is on caring for priests and the institution,” he said.
How to report abuse and sources for help:
Savannah: If you are a victim of abuse by clergy, an employee or a volunteer in the Diocese of Savannah, or if you know of anyone who has been a victim of such misconduct, please contact civil authorities and the Diocese Abuse Reporting Line at 1-888-357-5330.
Atlanta: If you know or suspect a case of sexual abuse, call the archdiocesan 24-hour Abuse Reporting Hotline at 1-888-437-0764. If allegation of abuse involves any member of the clergy, employee, or volunteer of the Archdiocese of Atlanta, you must contact the Office of the District Attorney and the Office of Child and Youth Protection in addition to DFCS within 24 hours, according to the website.
If you suspect a child is being abused, call DFCS at 1-855-GA-CHILD (1-855-422-4453). If you have an immediate emergency, call 911 or local law enforcement. Find additional information about the DFCS reporting process here: https://dfcs.georgia.gov/services/child-abuse-neglect.
SNAP (Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests) www.https://snapnet.org
Together We Heal at https://together-we-heal-org/
About the Author
Shelia has worked at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution for more than 30 years. Previously, she worked at The Lexington Herald-Leader and The Louisville Defender. Her beat is a bit of a mixed bag that includes religion and spirituality, culture and trends, race and aging. She earned degrees from Spelman College and Northwestern University.