A Pennsylvania grand jury has determined that hundreds of children were sexually abused over the course of four decades.
Penn Live reports that the abuse was widespread, involving at least 50 priests or religious leaders at the diocese. Not only are hundreds of children believed to have been victimized, but a 147-page report claims superiors were anything but inactive — helping to cover up these heinous occurrences.
“Pray for the victims,” said Rev. Dennis Kurdziel at a noontime Mass mere hours after the grand jury report went public, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “Pray for your bishop, pray for your priests. I need your prayers. Ask for God’s help, even on this very ugly day.”
Two people implicated in the coverup are Bishops James Hogan and Joseph Adamec, who led Catholic Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown from the mid-1960s to 2011. Investigators reportedly found letters written between the two detailing ongoing abuse and their knowledge of a concealment. In addition to information about the victims and offending priests, FOX 43 reports they took about 115,042 from the Diocese.
Bishop Adamec didn’t speak at the grand jury hearing, invoking his fifth amendment rights.
“The heinous crimes these children endured are absolutely unconscionable,” state Attorney General Kathleen Kane said. “These predators desecrated a sacred trust and preyed upon their victims in the very places where they should have felt most safe.”
Though some of these cases occurred nearly half a century ago, spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference Amy B. Hill told the Catholic News Service that Pennsylvania statute of limitations for sexual abuse allowing a “age 20 to age 50 for criminal prosecutions and age 20 to age 30 for civil actions.”