Pennsylvania Supreme Court blocks release of grand jury report—victims group responds
For immediate release, June 21, 2018
Statement by Tim Lennon, President, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), tlennon@SNAPnetwork.org, 415-312-5820
We are absolutely sick to learn that the long anticipated release of the grand jury investigation into six Catholic dioceses has been indefinitely blocked by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
What is particularly frustrating is that we have no information about the “unnamed individuals or institutions” who requested this delay. While the bishops in all six dioceses have stated publicly that they would not block the release of the report, we remain very suspicious that the delay was orchestrated by Church officials. History and past experience has shown us that Catholic bishops are perfectly capable of feigning concern and openness while using hard ball legal tactics to hide the evidence of their callous disregard for the safety of children under their care.
Previous investigations, in Philadelphia and Altoona-Johnstown and around the world, have revealed the systemic cover up of heinous abuse by those in power. We have every reason to suspect that this report would be similarly devastating to high ranking Church officials.
At this point we can only hope that the Supreme Court will swiftly examine all the evidence and conclude, as did Judge Norman A. Krumenacker, that the interest of the public in having the information overrides the interest of the “unnamed individuals or institutions.”
We applaud the courage and commitment of Attorney General Josh Shapiro. He not only empaneled the grand jury to take a closer look at the actions of this powerful institution, but also, in response to this disturbing ruling, has pledged to “continue fighting tirelessly to make sure the victims of this abuse are able to tell their stories and the findings of this investigation are made public to the people of Pennsylvania.” He is a shining example of what all attorney generals and district attorneys should be.
We commend the citizens of Pennsylvania who served on the grand jury. Their efforts should be celebrated, and made public.
Last, but not least, our hearts go out the courageous survivors who were victims of unspeakable abuse by clergy within the dioceses of Scranton, Allentown, Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, Erie, and Greensburg. They poured out their souls, some telling their stories for the first time, and have once again been consigned to silence.
It is time for survivors, law enforcement, the media, and concerned citizens to unite and to speak out. It is past time for what has been hidden to be revealed. We hope we can count on each and every one of you.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, is the world's oldest and largest support group for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has more than 25,000 supporters. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)
Contact - Tim Lennon (415-312-5820, tlennon@SNAPnetwork.org), Becky Ianni (703-801-6044, firstname.lastname@example.org), Melanie Sakoda (925-708-6175, email@example.com)
50 State AG Call for Grand Jury
Any investigation must be:
- independent of and separate from the church
- must have subpoena powers and ability to compel testimony under oath
Anything short of these criteria is a sham and whitewash.
In addition, write letters to the editor, make phone calls to politicians as they can apply pressure to keep them responsive to our demand. We need to make efforts to ensure that they follow up on what the state is doing to investigate these crimes.
The Attorneys General of forty states have inquired about the grand jury process in Pennsylvania. Let's get statewide investigations going in fifty states.
Note to Letter Writers
Use your own words and style of writing. Cut and paste from the templates as you wish. Include your experiences, whether as a survivor or as a member of the community. And relate your letter to the state you were abused in or state now living in.