Robert Mizic, 47, watch a press conference on the grand jury report, inquiry into sexual abuse within the Catholic Church in Pennsylvania in his home on Tuesday. Mizic says that he is abused by his parish priest at a Catholic Church in a suburb of Philadelphia 35 years ago.
(Andrew Rush/Post-Gazette via AP)
Robert Mizic, 47, said his life was removed as an altar boy 35 years ago, when he was abused by his parish priest at a Catholic Church in a suburb of Philadelphia.
He is one of the many accusers in a stunning scandal within the Catholic Church in Pennsylvania.
Hundreds of priests were said to have molested more than 1,000 children — and possibly many more — since the 1940s, and senior church officials, including a man who is now the archbishop of Washington, D. C., allegedly the abuse, according to a grand jury report released Tuesday.
WARNING: GRAPHIC ALLEGATIONS BELOW
Huge sex-abuse scandal hidden by the Catholic Church revealed
Hundreds of Pennsylvania priests have sexually abused more than a thousand children, while the church hid the evidence, according to the attorney-general.
The “real number” of the abused children can be in the thousands, since a number of secret church records were lost, and the victims were afraid to come forward, the grand jury.
“We’re sick, about all the crimes that remain unpunished and not paid,” the grand jury.
The grand jury accused Cardinal Donald Wuerl, who leads the Washington archdiocese, helping to protect abusive priests, when he was Pittsburgh’s bishop. Wuerl responded in part: “I sincerely hope that a fair assessment of my actions in the past and the present, and my continuing commitment to the protection of children will dispel all notions otherwise created by this report.”
Different Forms of Abuse
Most of the Pennsylvania victims were boys, but the girls were abused, the report said.
The abuse ranged from touching and masturbation to anal, oral and vaginal rape. A young boy was forced to say that the confession to the priest that sexually abused him. A 9-year-old boy was forced into oral sex and then he had his mouth washed with the holy water. Another guy was to pose nude if crucified, and then was photographed by a group of priests that the Attorney-General Josh Shapiro said produced and shared child pornography on the church square.
Mizic called himself a survivor. “It is a terrible way of life. I had my youth stolen from me, my life stolen,” he told KDKA-TV.
The report put the number of abusive priests in more than 300. In almost all cases, the statute of limitations has run, which means that criminal charges not be filed. More than 100 of the priests are dead, and many others are retired or are discharged from the office or on leave.
“The priests raping little boys and girls, and the men of God, who were responsible for them, not only did nothing. They hid,” Shapiro said at a press conference in Harrisburg.
At the conference, a film was played by the prosecutors. “Who would believe me?” 83-year-old Robert Corby said in the film, as Philly.com reported. “A priest, who in 1948 or ’47, would abuse you?”
The Leaders of the church would have taken Steps to Cover Up the Abuse
Shapiro said the investigation confirmed a “systematic cover-up by senior church officials in Pennsylvania and in the Vatican.” The report itself is little detail about the Vatican role than describing a series of confidential reports which the bishops made to the Vatican about abusive priests.
The alleged conspiracy of silence extended church grounds. The grand jury of the found in the cases in which the police or the prosecutors learned of clergy sexual abuse allegations, but do not examine out of respect for church officials.
Mizic added, “That is the real travesty to know that they knew, and they knew, and moved these priests are endangering other children is deplorable.”
The grand jury to the conclusion that a succession of Catholic diocesan bishops and other leaders tried to protect the church from bad publicity and financial liability. They failed to report suspect priests to the police and sent abusive priests from the so-called “treatment facilities,” which “crops” the priests and “allowed hundreds of well-known offenders to return to the ministry,” the report said.
Former priest James Faluszczak, who says he was molested by a priest as a teenager, responding to the Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro speaks during a news conference at the Pennsylvania Capitol in Harrisburg, Pa., Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2018. Pennsylvania grand jury says the investigation of the clergy sexual abuse identified more than 1,000 child victims. The grand jury report released Tuesday says that the number of records in six Roman Catholic dioceses.
(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
“This is the murder of soul,” James Faluszczak, a former priest who said he was abused by a priest as a child in the Diocese of Erie, told Philly.com. “There is no statute of limitations on the crime of murder.”
The grand jury probe was the most extensive study of Catholic clergy abuse by each state. Her findings echoed many previous church surveys in the whole country, describing the widespread sexual abuse and the church officials’ concealment. The AMERICAN bishops have acknowledged that more than 17,000 people nationwide have reported being molested by priests and others in the church.
Allegations in the Dioceses that Minister to More Than Half of the State’s 3.2 Million Catholics
The Pennsylvania grand jury convened by the attorney-general’s office in 2016, heard from dozens of witnesses and reviewed more than a half million pages of internal documents from the Allentown, Erie, Greensburg, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh and Scranton dioceses.
The grand jury examined abuse allegations in the diocese who minister to more than half of the state’s 3.2 million Catholics.
The Pittsburgh diocese said a few priests are still in ministry because the diocese determined allegations against them were substantiated.
Tim Lennon, the president of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, urged Pennsylvania lawmakers to raise civil and criminal statutes of limitations for child sex crimes, and victims who no longer meet the age requirements in state law with a new window to file civil lawsuits.
Some of the current and former priests named in the report to the court to prevent the release, arguing it violated their constitutional rights. The state Supreme court said that the public had a right to see it, but found the names of the priests and others who objected to the findings would be a black-out of September in anticipation of a hearing on their claims.
Twenty of the grand jury members said Tuesday that they oppose “all attempts to censor, alter, or edit to change” of the report.
Different dioceses decided to strip the accused of their anonymity and released the names of clergy who were accused of sexual misconduct.
Authorities evaluated each suspect and were able to charge only two, including a priest, who has since pleaded guilty. Shapiro said the investigation is ongoing.
Attorney-General Calls the Cover-Up Sexual Abuse of children’
Church officials “routinely and deliberately described the abuse of noise and struggle”, and just “inappropriate behavior,” Shapiro said.
“It was none of those things. It was of sexual abuse, including rape,” he said.
Former Pittsburgh Bishop Responds
The grand jury accused Cardinal Donald Wuerl, who leads the Washington archdiocese, helping to protect abusive priests, when he was Pittsburgh’s bishop. Wuerl, who led the Pittsburgh diocese from 1988 to 2006, disputed the allegations.
“Although I understand this report is critical of some of my actions, I believe that the report confirms that I acted with diligence, with attention for the victims and prevention of future acts of abuse,” he said in a statement.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Frank Miles is a journalist and editor, covering sports, tech, military and geopolitical for FoxNews.com. He can be reached at Frank.Miles@foxnews.com.