Unnamed Group Seeking To Seal Court Proceedings in Maryland Report on Abusive Clergy

(For Immediate Release November 23, 2022) 

A group named in a report detailing sexual abuse committed by Catholic priests is asking a Baltimore judge to seal all court proceedings in the Maryland attorney general’s efforts to make the report public. The group, whose name and number are unknown, made the request last Thursday, according to a court filing. In the filing, attorneys for the group said that although the people are named in the attorney general’s report, they are not accused of sexual abuse.

The anonymous group is represented by attorneys Gregg Bernstein and William J. Murphy of the Zuckerman Spaeder law firm, who will only identify their clients in a private hearing. In 2018 and 2019, Archbishop William Lori appointed Gregg Bernstein, Esq. to a team that investigated sexual misconduct allegations made against former Wheeling-Charleston, West Virginia, diocese Bishop Michael Bransfield. Lori, then Bishop of the Diocese of Bridgeport, Connecticut, went all the way to the United States Supreme Court in 2009 to keep sealed documents on clergy sex abuse and lost that fight.

It's not shocking to us at all to learn that an ‘anonymous group’ then, is attempting to prevent the release of a report detailing sexual abuse by the clergy in Maryland. For decades, the Roman Catholic Church has gone to great lengths to completely disregard, conceal, and minimize rampant sexual abuse and rape of children worldwide. When it comes to clergy sexual abuse, the Catholic Church's playbook has been to fight, deny, and delay.

Any individual, group, or church official seeking to seal court proceedings or remove names, accused or not, from the report, in our opinion, has something to hide. If the efforts are to conceal innocent names, then why not be a part of the solution rather than the problem and stop using tactics to shield crucial information? Did victims of abuse have choices? No, they have carried the liability for far too long. Church officials and their counsel need to stop perpetuating the notion that their hands a clean.

We will continue to fight alongside all survivors to ensure that every victim has their day in court and that every predator priest, bishop, and church official who enabled child abuse are held accountable for their heinous actions. We hope Maryland Attorney General Frosh does not back down from his demand that the entire report is released. Anything less would keep those who perpetrated, witnessed or turned a blind eye to abuse in the shadows. No victim's truth is less important than another's, and no criminal act is less heinous. If the church is to be transparent and accountable, the truth must be revealed.

CONTACT: David Lorenz, Maryland SNAP Leader ([email protected] 301-906-9161) Becky Ianni, Virginia SNAP Leader [email protected], 703-801-6044) Mike McDonnell, SNAP Communications Manager([email protected], 267-261-0578) Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director ([email protected], 517-974-9009) Shaun Dougherty, SNAP Board President ([email protected], 814-341-8386)

(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. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)

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