Maryland’s Attorney General on Wednesday released a report accusing Catholic priests and others at the Archdiocese of Baltimore of decades of sexual abuse against more than 600 children, following a multi-year grand jury investigation.
“The incontrovertible history uncovered by this investigation is one of pervasive and persistent abuse by priests and other Archdiocese personnel,” a 463-page redacted report, released by Attorney General Anthony Brown, said. “It is also a history of repeated dismissal or cover up of that abuse by the Catholic Church hierarchy.”
Investigators interviewed hundreds of victims and witnesses whose stories “reveal themes and behaviors typical of adults who sexually abuse children, and of those who enable abuse by concealing it,” according to the report.
“What was consistent throughout was the absolute authority and power these abusive priests and church leadership held over victims, their families, and their communities,” it continued.
The investigation found more than 600 children were abused by 156 people but determined the actual number is “likely far higher.”
Many of the accused are now dead and no longer able to be prosecuted, notes the report — which focuses mainly on alleged abuse from the 1940s through 2002. The investigators said they hope exposing the issues will bring accountability in the absence of criminal justice.
The report names 146 abusers — including priests, deacons, sisters and other personnel — and redacted the names of an additional 10.
“The staggering pervasiveness of the abuse itself underscores the culpability of the Church hierarchy,” the report reads. “The sheer number of abusers and victims, the depravity of the abusers’ conduct, and the frequency with which known abusers were given the opportunity to continue preying upon children are astonishing.”
Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori in a statement called the report “a sad and painful reminder of the tremendous harm caused to innocent children and young people by some ministers of the Church” and called the documented abuse “shocking and soul searing.”
“It is difficult for most to imagine that such evil acts could have actually occurred. For victim-survivors everywhere, they know the hard truth: These evil acts did occur,” Lori said, apologizing on behalf of the Archdiocese.
“To all survivors, I offer my most earnest apology on behalf of the Archdiocese and pledge my continued solidarity and support for your healing. We hear you. We believe you and your courageous voices have made a difference,” he added.