By Danielle Silvia
More than 300 priests in Pennsylvania have been named in a grand jury report on the prevalence of sex abuse in the Catholic Church. These priests are accused of sexually abusing children for more than seven decades, and were subsequently protected by a hierarchy of church officials, according to The Washington Post.
This is the widest and most in-depth investigation of child sex abuse in the Catholic Church, and the latest report includes six of Pennsylvania’s eight dioceses. The investigation discovered nearly 1,000 identified victims, according to The New York Times.
The report predicts that there are thousands more victims who did not testify, or whose records have been lost. The grand jury believes these predictions to be true and supports the report which, according to CBS News, corroborates well with previous church investigations around the country.
The six dioceses listed in the report were Allentown, Erie, Greensburg, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh and Scranton. Investigators examined these six dioceses for 18 months, searching and eventually confirming the existence of hidden reports of sexual abuse by church officials, according to CBS News.
Investigators in Pittsburgh discovered 99 priests in their own diocese, the largest percentage of a single diocese of the 300 total priests that were found to be sexual abusers, according to CBS News.
The grand jury was responsible for reviewing more than 2 million documents, which detailed reports of abuse recorded by the church leaders who covered up the incidents. Additionally, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro told CBS News that the investigation also found hidden reports covered by church officials at the Vatican.
Not many criminal cases will be successfully brought to court even in light of this discovery, according to The Washington Post.
Using the report as evidence, Shapiro said that an overwhelming majority of the cases are “too old to be prosecuted,” largely due to the widespread cover-ups and lack of immediate testimony from victims and witnesses, according to CBS.