Philadelphia Priests Accused by Grand Jury of Sexual Abuse and Cover-Up By JON HURDLE February 10, 2011 PHILADELPHIA
A grand jury on Thursday accused the Archdiocese of Philadelphia of failing to stop the sexual abuse of children more than five years after a grand jury report documented abuse by more than 50 priests. The new report said a senior church official charged with investigating allegations of sexual abuse by priests had in fact allowed some of those accused to remain in posts that gave them continued access to children. It charged him with endangering the welfare of minors and accused three priests and a teacher of raping two boys between 1996 and 1999.
“By no means do we believe that these were the only two parishioners who were abused during this period,” the report said.
At least 37 priests who are subject to “substantial evidence of abuse” are still in roles that bring them into contact with children, the new report said, and 10 of those have been in place since before 2005, when the last grand jury made its allegations….
The report also charged Msgr. William Lynn, secretary of clergy in the archdiocese under former Cardinal Anthony J. Bevilacqua, with endangering the welfare of children by allowing “dangerous” priests to remain in place. Monsignor Lynn was responsible for investigating abuse allegations from 1992 to 2004.
“The rapist priests we accuse were well known to the Secretary of Clergy, but he cloaked their conduct and put them in place to do it again,” the grand jury said….
In a statement issued late on Thursday, Cardinal Justin Rigali, the archbishop of Philadelphia, rejected the report’s assertion that there were active priests who had been credibly accused of abuse….
The report accused the archdiocese of lacking urgency in its efforts to eradicate sexual abuse by its priests….
“These are simply not the actions of an institution that is serious about ending sexual abuse of children,” the report said.
The 124-page report, which contains graphic descriptions of abuse of the 9- and 10-year-old boys, said the grand jury decided “reluctantly” not to press charges against Cardinal Bevilacqua, who stepped down in 2003 after 15 years as archbishop, even though he worked closely with Monsignor Lynn, because it did not have enough evidence.
In 2005, a grand jury report accused the church of an “immoral cover-up” that had exposed hundreds of children to sexual assault. That report recommended no criminal charges.