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December 16, 2018

Pennsylvania Supreme Court rules to keep private names of priests listed in grand jury report on child sex abuse

December 4, 2018
The Pennsylvania Grand Jury’s report, released in August, accused the Roman Catholic Church of covering up decades of sexual abuse. (Jeff Swensen / Getty Images)

The 11 priests who were named in a two-year investigation into child sex abuse within the church spanning 70 years can remain publicly anonymous, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled Monday.

Of the 301 priests accused of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church, spread through six dioceses and more than 1,000 children, only a few are recent enough for the attorney general’s office to prosecute.




Eleven of those clergymen, who argued against the label “predatory priests,” claimed that their names should be kept secret in order to protect their reputations. The Supreme Court agreed.

“We acknowledge that this outcome may be unsatisfying to the public and to the victims of the abuse detailed in the report,” Justice Debra Todd wrote for the majority, according to the Allentown Morning Call.

“While we understand and empathize with these perspectives, constitutional rights are of the highest order, and even alleged sexual abusers, or those abetting them, are guaranteed by our commonwealth’s Constitution the right of due process.”

The attorney general’s office had argued that its lawyers would be unable to do their jobs if grand juries kept names secret and that this investigation would be their last.

Attorney General Josh Shapiro said the court’s decision “allows predator priests to remain in the shadows and permits the Church to continue concealing their identities.

“No one victim’s truth is any less important than another and no one’s criminal conduct any less loathsome,” he said. “While this order bars me from releasing the names of these 11 petitioners, nothing in this order prevents the dioceses from sharing the shielded names with their parishioners and the public.”

Shapiro called on the bishops themselves to release the names for the sake of transparency.

The Pennsylvania Grand Jury’s report, released in August, accused the Roman Catholic Church of covering up decades of sexual abuse.

“Priests were raping little boys and girls, and the men of God who were responsible for them not only did nothing; they hid it all. For decades,” the report read.

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