Pa. Priest Abuse Hotline Receives More Than 1,130 Calls As Reports Spike
By Candy Woodall
York Daily Record
September 21, 2018
The number of people who say they were sexually abused by Catholic clergy in Pennsylvania has more than doubled since a grand jury report released early last month identified 301 predator priests.
That report estimated about 1,000 victims throughout six dioceses in Pennsylvania who were silenced by a cover-up that dated back to the 1930s.
A little more than a month later, the number of people to come forward continues to grow.
As of Thursday, the clergy abuse hotline set up by state Attorney General Josh Shapiro had received calls from 1,130 people.
|Attorney General Josh Shapiro outlined the findings of the grand jury investigation into six catholic diocese in Pennsylvania on Tuesday, August 14, 2018. The grand jury's report detailed child sexual abuse and coverup by more than 300 clergy. (Photo: Ty Lohr, York Daily Record)|
Agents in the Office of the Attorney General "return every call, log every fact, and contribute to further investigations where appropriate," Shapiro said in a Twitter statement.
"If you've been victimized, it's time to come out of the shadows. #SpeakUp, & we'll be there to help," he said on Twitter.
Shapiro will stand with victims and survivors at 5:30 p.m. Monday on the Capitol steps to demand that lawmakers pass reforms called for by the grand jury.
"It's time that our Commonwealth legally stand on the side of victims & the legislature's upcoming vote needs to do just that," he said in a Tweet.
Shapiro on Tuesday held a roundtable and news conference, calling on the legislature to enact four reforms recommended by the grand jury in its 884-page report:
Eliminate the criminal statute of limitations for sexually abusing children
Create a "civil window" so older victims may sue for damages
Clarify penalties for failing to report child abuse
Specify that civil confidentiality agreements do not include communication with law enforcement
Pennsylvanians and people across the world have made a clear statement: The time for institutions to protect their reputation over protecting victims is over,” Shapiro said in a statement.
Shapiro's priest abuse investigation in Pennsylvania has inspired widespread inquiries in other states and dioceses across the country. Prosecutors in several states, including New Jersey and New York, have followed Pennsylvania's map to uncovering systemic abuse. And dioceses from Harrisburg to San Jose have independently released lists of priests they say are credibly accused of abuse.
Clergy members across the country have also acknowledged they failed to report priest abuse and issued their resignations.
The Pennsylvania report has resonated all the way to the Vatican, where Pope Francis last week called for an urgent meeting of all bishops. A summit on clergy abuse is planned for February.
“There’s absolutely no reason to think any good will come of such a meeting,” given the church’s decades of failure to reform, David Clohessy, former director of the victims’ advocacy group SNAP, said in a statement.
“Criminal prosecutions, governmental investigations and journalistic exposes — stemming from brave victims and church whistleblowers — are the best way to protect kids, expose wrongdoers and end cover-ups,” he said.