The Altoona grand jury report in a nutshell
By David Clohessy
Most folks won’t wade through all 147 pages of the new grand jury report disclosing rampant child sex abuse and cover ups in the Altoona-Johnstown diocese. So here, in our view, is the shortest, clearest summary of the most alarming and recent wrongdoing it contains.
In short, the report shows that diocesan abuse deceit is continuing. Here’s how PennLive reported it:
The bishop controlled the Allegation Review Board.
Bishop Adamec created the Allegation Review Board to allegedly determine the credibility of an allegation of abuse.
However, the purpose of creating the board, the grand jury said, was to convince people that the days of a mysterious bishop deciding how to handle a scandalous and heinous report of child molestation were over.
"In reality, the bishop still exclusively makes the decision how or what to do with a report of child molestation," the grand jury said. "Nothing has changed but the trappings of how a report is procedurally made."
The grand jury said victims who believed they were reporting to a board of unbiased and neutral observers "would be sadly mistaken."
Diocese 'victim advocate' looked out for the church, not the victims.
The grand jury concluded, upon interviews with victims and reviews of documents, that the diocese "victim advocate" is an advocate for the diocese against the interest of the victims. The victim advocate was identified as Sister Marilyn Welch.
"Where the advocate can shuffle a victim into the Allegation Review Board without the involvement of legal representation for a victim, she does so," the grand jury reported.
"Money is offered. Confidentiality and release claims are signed by victims and the diocese to avoid public scrutiny."
So much for all those claims of ‘reform’ by bishops. . .
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.