The revelations recently revealed in a Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report detailing a pervasive pattern of child sex abuse within six of eight Catholic Church diocese in the Commonwealth has brought shock and sorrow to not only those affected but observers across the nation as well.
The Report, consisting of more than 800 pages, details the alleged crimes of over 300 child sex abusers within the Catholic Church community and more than 1000 child victims of that abuse. Sadly, more than 10 percent of those victims have subsequently taken their own lives.
Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro eloquently encapsulated what the Grand Jury Report contains:
“Pennsylvanians can finally learn the extent of sexual abuse in these dioceses. For the first time, we can all begin to understand the systematic cover up by church leaders that followed. The abuse scarred every diocese. The cover up was sophisticated. The church protected the institution at all costs.”
Only two priests faced criminal liability
The Pittsburgh Diocese has the unfortunate distinction of serving as the home of 90 out of the 301 named sexual abuse predators, making it the primary hub of child sex crimes in the Catholic Church within the Commonwealth. Even worse, only three individuals among all the named predators have been convicted of these crimes. The three are: Fr. Richard Zula of Saints Mary and Ann in Marianna, Washington County, Fr. Robert Wolk of St. Thomas More in Bethel Park, and Fr. Richard Dorsch, who was convicted of sexual assault against a 13-year-old boy in North Park.
According to the report, the vast majority of the sexual acts involved – 90 percent – were committed prior to 1990. Despite certain attempts at reform in the 1990s, the report found that Catholic Church representatives continued child sex abuse practices which included consistent cover ups by bishops and other church leaders.
The heinous conspiracy of child sexual abuse
One shocking type of crime and cover-up involved a group of priests targeting young boys by planning their crime over a period of time by setting him up for the eventual sexual abuse. The priests would give the young boys golden crosses to wear, that unknowingly to the boys, informed other priests they were targets. In a particular instance, a priest would force a boy into a room stripped of his clothes, and compel him to pose naked on a cross. Photographs were taken and passed along to other church leaders on church property.
The above incident is only one example of thousands of horrific acts that were perpetrated against boys and girls within these Pennsylvania dioceses since 1947. In another disturbing incident, a priest impregnated a 17-year-old girl. He then created a fake marriage document by forging a pastor’s signature. After the baby was born, he divorced her. The priest was then transferred to a different state where a bishop helped hide him from exposure and cover up his crime.
The extent of the crimes perpetrated by the leadership of the Catholic Church in Pennsylvania has amounted to a vast conspiracy in which molesters and child rapists were protected and children were left exposed and unprotected from unimaginable horror. Many of the victims who have not taken their lives have grown up with the internal pain, wounds, and shame of their experience many decades in the past.
If you or a loved one has suffered as a victim of sexual abuse in a religious or professional work setting, the Los Angeles injury attorneys at Taylor & Ring are here to handle your case with compassion and professionalism to help you obtain compensation for your injuries. Let’s talk about your experience and situation with a free consultation. Call our law office today at 310.776.6390 or use our contact form to send us a message.
David Ring is a nationally renowned plaintiff’s personal injury trial attorney and has obtained multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements on behalf of seriously-injured individuals or families who have lost a loved one in a tragic accident. For more than 20 years, he has represented victims of sexual abuse, sexual harassment, assault, molestation and sexual misconduct in cases against a variety of employers and entities, including schools, churches and youth organizations.
He prides himself on providing aggressive, yet compassionate representation for children who have been sexually abused and women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted. Read more about David M. Ring.