300 Catholic priests abused children: US grand jury
A grand jury report released Tuesday said more than 300 "predator priests" throughout the state of Pennsylvania had been protected by the Catholic Church after sexually abusing children.
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The report was released after an 18-month investigation into the abuse conducted by Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro.
"We can begin to understand the systematic cover up by the church," Shapiro said at a news conference.
The report found priests had not only been sexually abused children, but the Catholic Church covered up incidents to protect priests and the image of the Church.
"The main thing was not to help children, but to avoid 'scandal'," the report said.
The Church not only failed to punish any priests, but some were promoted.
The investigation scoured six church dioceses and found more than 1,000 child victims -- boys and girls -- and it believes the numbers to be much higher due to records being lost.
"Instead of healing, victims were shamed," Shapiro added.
The Church was not the only entity involved in keeping the incidents hidden. The report found police learned about some cases of sexual abuse and rejected pursuing them.
Most of the cases were from before 2000, and that beyond the statute of limitations, but the report said it charged two priests
The report details the accounts of dozens of individuals who had been abused and assaulted by priests, and were told to not say anything about it.
"The time of telling these victims to keep their truths hidden has ended," Shapiro said.
The investigation comes 16 years after another abuse scandal published in the Boston Globe led to an investigation which ultimately led to the prosecution of five priests.
"We should emphasize that, while the list of priests is long, we don't think we got them all," the report said.
Many churches responded to the report, saying they supported it and want to stop any kind of abuse within their churches.
"As your bishop, I am deeply sorry for the hurt these behaviors have brought to our church and like you, I am heartbroken for the victims who have suffered," Joseph Bambera, a bishop for the Scranton diocese, said Tuesday in a video response to the report.