One year after clergy sex abuse report in Pa., much has changed, much has not

(Harrisburg) -- One year ago today, Pennsylvania emerged at the epicenter of the global clergy sex abuse crisis. The 40th Statewide Investigating Grand Jury outlined in horrific details the criminality and concealment of child sex crimes on the part of the Catholic Church in Pennsylvania.

The report seemed a watershed moment for victims and for advocates looking to reverse decades of legal inaction against church officials.

The 18-month-long investigation - the most exhaustive state investigation into clergy sex abuse - uncovered decades-long abuse and concealment of thousands of children at the hands of more than 300 clergy across six dioceses, including the Diocese of Harrisburg.

"Predators in every diocese weaponized the Catholic faith and used it as a tool of their abuse," Attorney General Josh Shapiro said last August as he released the findings of the investigation, surrounded by several dozen victims of child sex abuse.

The 900-plus page report became the gold standard, and in swift order, galvanized dozens of prosecutors across the country to launch their own investigations. Approximately 20 states attorney generals have launched investigations; dozens of district attorneys have followed suit.

By the fall, federal prosecutors had opened their own investigation, using subpoenas to demand secret files and testimony from high-ranking church leaders. The ongoing investigation marks the first such probe ever launched by the U.S. Justice Department into the Roman Catholic Church.

Momentum from the report renewed efforts in the Pennsylvania Legislature to strengthen laws to protect victims and prosecute predators and those who shield them.

It seemed a turning point.

Yet one year later, the scathing report stands at a confounding junction. In its wake, a growing roster of states have initiated their own investigations, and the report has led some states to enact sweeping changes to state child sex crime laws.

Yet in Pennsylvania, the momentum for legislative efforts has been met with perennial hurdles that in the past have stalled and stymied legisla...

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