‘It’s going to be sickening’: Priest abuse report under review by judge

WBAL-TV, NBC-11 [Baltimore MD]

March 15, 2023

By David Collins

A judge will review the Maryland Attorney General’s report on alleged sexual abuse by priests within the Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore.

Circuit Court Judge Robert Taylor will release a redacted version of the 456-page report, titled “Clergy Abuse in Maryland,” once he determines those redactions are legally sufficient.

David Lorenz is the Maryland director of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP).

“I think it’s going to be sickening,” Lorenz said. “I think we are going to see probably 90% of the report, I would guess. I think we are going to see story after story after story of abuse and cover-up.”

Lorenz is a survivor of sexual abuse, and now advocates for fellow survivors by leading SNAP.

“This report might help these people come forward. Seek help and, you know, start their healing process,” he said.

According to an executive summary of the report, the Attorney General’s investigation identified 600 sex abuse victims over an 80-year period. The report summarizes the sexual abuse and physical torture allegedly perpetrated by at least 158 priests, and the Archdiocese’s response. The report indicates both boys and girls were abused, with ages ranging from pre-school to young adult.

Archbishop William Lori does not oppose the release, but according to court documents filed in the case, the Archdiocese paid legal fees for people named in the report, who are not accused, but wanted to keep court proceedings secret.

The report could have an impact on state legislation. SB 686, the Child Victim’s Act of 2023, would eliminate the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse lawsuits. Under current law, an abuse victim must file by the time they reach age 38. Given the number of cases that could be uncovered via this report, lawmakers would likely hope to have it before the legislative session ends April 11.

The Maryland Catholic Conference, in a statement, called the bill both “unconstitutional and unfair.”

“It could lead to the filing of 3,000 lawsuits at a cost to taxpayers of $2.5 billion,” the statement said.

The bill is on the Senate floor for discussion Monday night. Senate President Bill Ferguson, D-District 46, believes its eventual passage is likely.

“(It would) provide a real way for victims to have redress and seek justice for harms in the past,” Ferguson said.

The Attorney General’s office said in a statement, “these proposed redactions include individuals who are living, are accused of abuse, hiding abuse, enabling abuse, assisting in the cover-up of abuse, or protecting abusers from the consequences of their action, and whose identities were revealed as a result of the grand jury subpoenas. The Court must review these proposed redactions before the report may be released to the public.”