BALTIMORE, MD—Maryland Attorney General Anthony G. Brown on Wednesday released the redacted “Report on Child Sexual Abuse in the Archdiocese of Baltimore,” which reflects the culmination of an intensive, four-year investigation into allegations of child sexual abuse by members of the clergy and cover-up of that abuse by the leadership of the Catholic Church.
The report “documents a history of widespread abuse and systemic cover-up by clergy and others associated with the Catholic Church throughout the Archdiocese,” reads the official press release. The report indicates that young people in some parishes were preyed upon by multiple abusers over decades, and clergy used the power and authority of the ministry to exploit the trust of the children and families in their charge. The report also describes the repeated actions of those in positions of leadership to conceal and cover up the abuse, moving priests to other parishes, failing to investigate or report abuse to civilian law enforcement authorities, and providing financial support to priests in retirement. Finally, the report recommends, as the General Assembly is on track to do this session with the Child Victims Act of 2023, that Maryland eliminate the statute of limitations that has prevented survivors from bringing civil actions against abusers and recovering damages for the harms they have suffered.
“This Report illustrates the depraved, systemic failure of the Archdiocese to protect the most vulnerable – the children it was charged to keep safe,” said Attorney General Brown. “Based on hundreds of thousands of documents and untold stories from hundreds of survivors, it provides, for the first time in the history of this State, a public accounting of more than 60 years of abuse and cover-up. Time and again, the Archdiocese chose to safeguard the institution and avoid scandal instead of protecting the children in its care. This Report shines a light on this overwhelming tragedy, and it was the courage of the survivors that made it possible.”
The Attorney General’s investigation into criminal allegations of child sexual abuse and cover-up efforts was launched in 2018. The Grand Jury of Baltimore City issued subpoenas to the Archdiocese of Baltimore, as well as to individual parishes, religious orders, and St. Mary’s Seminary. In response, hundreds of thousands of documents dating back to the 1940s were produced over a four-year period, including treatment reports, personnel records, transfer reports, and policies and procedures. The attorneys and investigators of this Office reviewed these documents and interviewed hundreds of survivors and their family members, and other witnesses, to uncover and document the systemic abuse and its cover-up by the Catholic Church in the Archdiocese of Baltimore. The Office created an email address and telephone hotline for individuals to report information about clergy abuse, receiving tips from over 300 people, including survivors and witnesses.
Included in the report are 156 current or former Catholic clergy, seminarians, deacons, members of Catholic religious orders, teachers at Catholic schools, and other employees of the Archdiocese known to the Attorney General’s Office to have been the subject of credible allegations of child sexual abuse committed in the Archdiocese of Baltimore or to have relocated to the Archdiocese in the wake of child sexual abuse committed in other dioceses. The report details the abuse known to have been committed by these individuals, and the actions – and failures to act – of Archdiocesan officials in response. The report also identifies 43 other clergy who served in some capacity or resided within the Archdiocese but who committed sexual abuse outside the Archdiocese of Baltimore. The Archdiocese of Baltimore encompasses Baltimore City and nine counties in central and western Maryland (Allegany, Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Frederick, Garrett, Harford, Howard, and Washington counties).
Per order of the court, the Office of the Attorney General has redacted the names and identifying information of persons named in the report who are living, who were identified solely or primarily through review of documents provided in response to the grand jury subpoenas, and who the report accuses of “hiding abuse, enabling abuse, assisting in the cover-up of abuse, or protecting abusers from the consequences of their action.” People whose identities are redacted will be notified and given an opportunity to review the portions of the report that identify them, and to file objections with the court. After those objections are received, the court will decide whether to permit another release of the report without redactions or with more limited redactions. Individuals whose identities are redacted are not necessarily accused in the report of criminal misconduct.
Detectives with the Baltimore County Police Department’s Special Victims Unit are currently reviewing the report. All survivors of unreported abuse that occurred in Baltimore County are encouraged to contact the Baltimore County Police Department regardless of when it happened. A victim advocate is available to provide information, support and referrals to survivors and their families. To contact a detective, clergy abuse survivors may call 410-887-2223.
Archbishop William Lori released the following statement on Wednesday after the report was made available to the public:
Dear Friends in Christ,
Today’s report from the Maryland Attorney General is first and foremost a sad and painful reminder of the tremendous harm caused to innocent children and young people by some ministers of the Church. The detailed accounts of abuse are 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.
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. Through difficult, although deeply meaningful, meetings, I have experienced your brave witness, and the power of your words and testimony compel my personal conviction to ensure we do everything possible to prevent future incidents of abuse and promote healing for survivors.
The report details a reprehensible time in the history of this Archdiocese, a time that will not be covered up, ignored or forgotten. Acknowledgment, I know, is of utmost importance. My immediate predecessors and I have offered unyielding public acknowledgment of the horrors of this era. In 2002, the Archdiocese publicly released the names of clergy members credibly accused of committing child sexual abuse, dating back to the 1930s. We continue to make public the names of abusers as we learn about them and as new accusations are reported.
It is important that we shine God’s light on these lived accounts of abuse. The exposure illustrates the radical changes the Archdiocese began making in the 1990s to end this scourge. These efforts have been significant, and the Archdiocese has changed. The Archdiocese is not the same organization it was when, as the report documents, cases of abuse peaked during the 1960s and 1970s. Instances fell every year and every decade since then, alongside the development of canon and criminal law and Archdiocesan accountability standards and policies designed to protect children. Having spent four years investigating the Archdiocese, former Attorney General Brian Frosh signaled that the cultural changes, child protection policies and accountability measures the Archdiocese began implementing more than a generation ago have proven successful.
Make no mistake, however: today’s strong record of protection and transparency does not excuse past failings that have led to the lasting spiritual, psychological and emotional harm victim-survivors have endured.
We continue to improve and build on the changes and accountability that define today’s Archdiocese. Another key turning point was in 1993 – 30 years ago – when the Archdiocese began reporting all allegations of abuse to law enforcement. Even if law enforcement does not press charges, the Archdiocese still takes seriously our own commitment to zero tolerance by permanently removing from ministry anyone credibly accused of child sexual abuse.
The Archdiocese will continue to work with victim-survivors, as we have for decades, by providing counseling, settlements and support. More than 300 victim-survivors have come to the Archdiocese and shared their horrific experiences. In turn, we have journeyed with them to provide a path toward healing at the survivor’s own direction and guidance.
Please read my pastoral letter “Apology, Healing & Action: The Church’s Work to Repair Sacred Trust.” This is a full and direct response that creates a clear path forward for our Church.
We pray this report will be a helpful step in the continued journey toward healing for victim-survivors, and indeed, for all of the faithful and for the Church itself. We remain wholly and steadfastly committed to continuing the efforts of the last generation that are designed to ensure the safety of children and prevent the abuses described in today’s report from ever occurring again.
The report can be viewed online here.