Release of "Blistering" Priest Sex Abuse Report Blocked
By Tim Darragh
June 22, 2018
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Wednesday blocked the expected release of a massive report examining sexual abuse and misconduct by priests in six Pennsylvania dioceses, including Scranton and Allentown.
The state’s high court issued an order barring Cambria County Judge Norman Krumenacker, who supervised the grand jury that heard testimony over two years, and Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro from releasing the report until further order.
The court’s order does not indicate who sought to block release of the report, but it indicates the court received more than one application for a stay.
Representatives from both the Diocese of Scranton and Diocese of Allentown said those institutions were not among petitioners who moved to block the report.
Several individuals who testified and advocacy groups say the report’s findings could be devastating to the church, not only for the abuse but also for alleged efforts to cover it up.
“It’ll be blistering,” said James Faluszczak, who says he was abused as a teenager by Monsignor Daniel J. Martin, an Erie priest.
Faluszczak says he reported his abuse years ago, but nothing was done until the grand jury investigation. Poulson was removed from the ministry earlier this year and was charged in May with sexually abusing two other boys.
Court records, news accounts and data compiled by advocacy groups show that more than two dozen priests in the Diocese of Allentown or serving the Lehigh Valley outside of diocesan administration have been accused of sexual misconduct going back to the 1960s. — (AP)
The diocesan administration led by Bishop Alfred Schlert — who became bishop after the grand jury was empaneled — has said it cooperated fully with investigators. “We welcome the release of the report,” the diocese said in a statement this month. “This story needs to be told, so that we can learn from the report and continue to improve protections for children.”
The investigation of the dioceses began in 2016 after another grand jury investigation looking at the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown found at least 50 priests or religious leaders had sexually abused hundreds of minors. The report also found that many of the allegations had not been reported to law enforcement, but instead were covered up by its bishops for decades. Grand juries looking into complaints in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia reported similarly explosive findings. The forthcoming report would cover the remaining dioceses in Pennsylvania.
More than 250,000 Catholics are in the Allentown Diocese. Across Pennsylvania, 3.2 million people are Catholic, according to the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference. — (AP)