HARRISBURG, Pa. – Pennsylvania’s highest court on Wednesday held up the release of a grand jury report in the treatment of sexual abuse claims with respect to the six Roman Catholic dioceses and local officials, days before it was expected to be made public.
The two-paragraph order did not explain the reasons, but said nothing in the court file, with the exception of the new order is available for public inspection.
The report is expected to reveal details of widespread abuse and efforts to hide and protect priests.
The court told the grand jury, judge and the attorney-general’s office, they can not release the findings until the court gives its permission.
Victim advocates have said the report is expected to be the largest and most exhaustive by a U.S. state.
The two-year study, six of Pennsylvania’s eight dioceses, churches with approximately 1.7 million members.
For the last order, prosecutors had said that they were likely to release by the end of next week.
“My legal team and I will continue to fight tirelessly to ensure that the victims of this abuse are able to tell their story and the findings of this research will be made public to the people of Pennsylvania,” said Attorney General Josh Shapiro.
Judge Norman Krumenacker, located in Cambria County, earlier this month made public its decision to reject an attempt to delay the release of the report, or leave those named in the challenge of the data before it is published.
He wrote that members of the jury heard from dozens of witnesses and reviewed more than a half million pages of internal documents of the diocesan archives. The investigation involved claims of child sexual abuse, failure to report to law enforcement and obstruction of justice by which, in connection with the Roman Catholic Church, local officials and leaders of the community.
The judge said that the state has a strong interest in the prevention of child abuse “by identifying the perpetrators and the persons and institutions that make it possible (they) continue with the abuse of children.”
The investigation concerned the Allentown, Erie, Greensburg, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh and Scranton dioceses. A 2005 report documented improper handling of claims of abuse in the diocese of Philadelphia about more than 100 priests and other clergy. All of the current bishops of the dioceses were able to testify before the grand jury, Krumenacker wrote, but only the Erie bishop did.
Two years ago, prosecutors announced the results of a county investigative grand jury in the Altoona-Johnstown diocese.
He said there were allegations of abuse from more than 50 priests and others by hundreds of children over decades. Bishops were told to keep the allegations secret, the Altoona-Johnstown report said.