HARRISBURG, Pa. – The efforts for the public release of a grand jury report on allegations of sexual abuse of children and cover-ups in six of the Pennsylvania Catholic dioceses are on the way to the state Supreme Court.
Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro will ask the court to quickly decide the lingering legal problems for his office said in a statement Friday. He expected that request Monday.
“The people of Pennsylvania have a right to see the report, to know who is trying to block its release and why, and to hear the voice of the victims of sexual abuse within the Church,” Shapiro said in the statement.
Victim advocates have said the report is expected to be the largest and most exhaustive such review by any state. The grand jury has, for the past two year investigation into allegations of sexual abuse of children in the dioceses of Allentown, Erie, Greensburg, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh and Scranton, churches with approximately 1.7 million members.
Allegations of sexual abuse of children, not to report, endangering the welfare of children and obstruction of justice not only keeps people connected with the church, but “local officials and leaders of the community,” according to a court document.
Living persons are named in the report, but not charged, were allowed to submit written answers to the allegations that would be attached to the report, according to the court documents.
However, the court is blocking the release of the report, the result of legal challenges filed under seal and the court has refused to name the people who filed the challenges, or those filings public.
The court said in a five-page opinion issued last Monday, that most of these people claim that they will be discussed in the report in a way that is in conflict with the reputation of the rights guaranteed by the state constitution and that they have a due process right to be heard by the grand jury.
The judges said that they had not seen the full report and needed time to sort through legal arguments.
The unnamed challengers’ claims first became public in an open opinion released last month by the Judge Norman Krumenacker, the supervising grand jury judge.
Krumenacker rejected their petition to challenge elements of the grand jury report became public, and he lifted the veil a bit on the research, the writing of which members of the jury had heard from dozens of witnesses and reviewed more than a half million pages of internal documents of the diocesan archives.