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.
State officials, though, said the investigation continues. Also, victims and their families could seek civil actions against priests who preyed on children and those who covered up the abuse. Often, victims in Pennsylvania can pursue civil claims up until they turn 30 years old.
In a similar case, lawyers at Kline & Specter are currently representing the family of a boy who alleged he was abused from ages 11 to 14 by a Philadelphia Catholic priest. Criminal charges were dropped after the victim, Sean McIlmail, years later at the age of 26, died of a heroin overdose.
Another case of child sexual abuse handled by the law firm involved the former Penn State assistant football coach Sandusky, who was accused of abusing dozens of boys. Tom Kline obtained the first and a pivotal settlement for one of Sandusky’s victims. The settlement for “Victim No. 5” – his identity was withheld throughout litigation -- was a substantial part of $60 million Penn State agreed to pay to all the victims.
Kline also reached a settlement of up to $3.8 million against a Pennsylvania psychotherapist who abused a teenage patient, while partner Shanin Specter achieved a $2 million settlement for 12-year-old boy who was assaulted at a charter school.
All victims of such abuse deserve justice. Those who were responsible for the abuse and enabling it and covering it up should be held accountable.