A grand jury report exposed more than 1,000 victims of child sexual abuse allegedly by some 300 Catholic priests across Pennsylvania, sending tremors not only in the state but across the country and beyond, even to the Vatican. But the report may never have seen the light of day without the effort of Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro and a host of others that filed briefs seeking to make the document public. And the legal fight isn’t over yet.
Child abuse comes in all different forms and places. Often it occurs where one would expect that children are sheltered and safe from harm. But abuse occurs in homes, foster care, school and even at church. Currently, an estimated 1,000 children are experiencing abuse in the Philadelphia metropolitan area.
A recently released Pennsylvania grand jury report detais decades of sexual assaults upon children by Catholic priests in the commonwealth -- more than 1,000 victims assaulted by some 300 “predator priests” – and an alleged cover-ups by church hierarchy.
April 2016 is National Child Abuse Awareness Month, a month the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services recognizes as a time to acknowledge the importance of families and communities working together to prevent child abuse and neglect as well as to promote the social and emotional well-being of children and families. During the month and also throughout the year, the department urges communities to share strategies and activities working toward child abuse prevention. The year 2016 is the 40th anniversary of the federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act.
The Attorney General of Pennsylvania has released an extensive grand jury report that found at least 50 priests in the Catholic Archdiocese of Altoona-Johnstown sexually abused hundreds of children over the years. The 147-page document cited a cover-up by church superiors, including bishops.
However, the grand jury did not recommend criminal charges for a number of reasons, mainly because the offenses largely occurred many years ago. Some of the offenders are dead and the statute of limitations has run out on pursuing criminal charges.
Kline & Specter’s David Inscho and Charles Becker have secured a $950,000 settlement for William Saunders, Jr. in a civil rights case against the City of Philadelphia and a Department of Human Services caseworker for knowingly placing the child in the home of his estranged father and his father’s violent fiancée rather than with his now-adoptive parents. This action, coupled with the case worker’s misrepresentation to family court of the fiancée being a fit guardian of the child demonstrated deliberate indifference to the welfare of Saunders, Inscho and Becker claimed in their lawsuit.