SNAP to Maryland AG: Time to Investigate the Archdiocese of Baltimore
Judge Robert Holzberg concluded that the Diocese of Bridgeport continually ignored laws regarding the reporting of abuse and failed in their duty to protect children under their care. One of the bishops specifically called out for this practice, the late Cardinal Lawrence J. Shehan, went on to become the Archbishop of Baltimore. We are concerned that Cardinal Shehan continued to cover up the sexual abuse of children in Maryland as well.
Another Baltimore Archbishop also came to Maryland from the Diocese of Bridgeport. Current Archbishop William E. Lori was the bishop of Bridgeport from 2001 to 2012, just prior to coming to Baltimore.
Judge Holzberg’s report says when at the helm in Bridgeport, Archbishop Lori acted quickly to remove abusive priests and implemented a new approach to handling allegations. However, he also engaged in a lengthy court fight to conceal documents on the Bridgeport scandal. The Bridgeport report acknowledges that the court battle “somewhat undercut” the diocese’s progress on transparency.
Recently, Archbishop Lori has faced criticism for deleting mention in a report to the Vatican of cash gifts he received from West Virginia bishop Michael J. Bransfield, who he was investigating.
We believe that it is possible that information about child sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of Baltimore may still be hidden, and that Archbishop Lori is not the man to make it public.
We hope that this report out of Bridgeport will encourage other victims, witnesses, and whistle-blowers in Maryland to come forward and make a report to police and prosecutors. And we hope that Maryland AG Brian E. Frosh will make it easier for survivors by implementing a robust investigation using all the resources at his disposal.
The Maryland Attorney General’s office already has an email address (firstname.lastname@example.org) for reporting clergy sexual abuse. However, we urge the creation of a hotline as well, which has worked so well in other states. We also believe that this latest report shows that it is long past time for AG Frosh to investigate the Archdiocese of Baltimore, using search warrants and subpoenas for documents and for testimony. We suspect that an investigation such as the continuing one in Pennsylvania will yield even more shocking revelations in Maryland.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network.)