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.
News of the report, released Tuesday, reverberated across the country, with accounts carried in newspapers and television news not only in the United States but in other countries as well. The report may also result in a wave of lawsuits by victims named in the report and those yet to come forward. (Read article)
The lengthy grand jury document was made public after lawsuits seeking its release were filed with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court by a number of organizations, among them Kline & Specter, PC, and media outlets including The Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News.
The report includes instances of abuse in six dioceses -- Pittsburgh, Allentown, Erie, Greensburg, Harrisburg and Scranton – dating back to 1947 and may only be the tip of the iceberg. The grand jurors noted: “We believe that the real number of children whose records were lost or who were afraid ever to come forward is in the thousands."
The report is explicit: "Priests were raping little boys and girls, and the men of God who were responsible for them not only did nothing; they hid it all. For decades. Monsignors, auxiliary bishops, bishops, archbishops, cardinals have mostly been protected; many, including some named in this report, have been promoted."
Tom Kline offered hope of redress for many of the victims, both those addressed in the report and others. In an article in The Legal Intelligencer following release of the report last Tuesday, he noted that one of its most important elements for potential plaintiffs is that it helps establish that there was institutional knowledge of the abuse.
He added that the report could provide a basis for further investigation, including by skilled and experienced law firms like Kline & Specter representing victims. “The victims know who their abusers were,” he told the newspaper. “We’re then going to figure it out. Trust me.”
Kline did just that in a recent case, McIlmail v. Archdiocese of Philadelphia, in which he and partner David Inscho obtained the largest-ever settlement with the archdiocese for a boy who had been abused by a priest over several years, an abuse that was covered up by the church hierarchy. The monetary amount of the settlement remains confidential. The victim, Sean McIlmail, tormented for years over his victimization, died of a drug overdose at the age of 26.
Kline told the Intelligencer: “A prosecutor in Pennsylvania has wide and powerful authority to investigate and gather information in a cohesive fashion and then package it as a final product. That kind of report in the McIlmail case became an in-depth starting point for litigation of an individual claim. This will happen repeatedly in claims that are not time-barred.”
Kline & Specter, with 41 attorneys, including several whose main practice is representing child abuse victims, has successfully litigated many cases of child abuse and sexual abuse. Our attorneys offer confidential and free case evaluations. Please contact us if you feel you have been the victim of abuse. Learn more about Kline & Specter child and sexual abuse litigation.