US bishops hid sex abuse of hundreds of children: US court
Two Roman Catholic bishops, at the helm of a church in the US state of Pennsylvania, have helped cover up the sexual abuse of hundreds of children, molested by some 50 priests over a span of four decades, an official report says.
According to a grand jury’s 147-page document released on Tuesday, the case is particularly focused on Bishops James Hogan and Joseph Adamec, who were in charge of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Altoona–Johnstown in Pennsylvania from the mid-1960s until 2011.
The report said Hogan was involved in covering up abuse allegations by transferring offending priests and Adamec, his staff at the time who succeeded him later, threatening some victims with excommunication.
Kathleen Kane, Pennsylvania Attorney General, whose office made the report public, said in a statement that their conduct endangered thousands of children and allowed child predators to abuse additional victims.
“The heinous crimes these children endured are absolutely unconscionable,” said Kane. “These predators desecrated a sacred trust and preyed upon their victims in the very places where they should have felt most safe.”
“Just as troubling is the cover-up perpetrated by clergy leaders that allowed this abuse to continue for decades,” Kane added. “They failed in our society’s most important task of protecting our children.”
Adamec payout chart
The report said Adamec had created a “payout chart” to help guide how much victims would receive from the church in return for their sexual services..
Based on the chart, between $10,000 and $25,000 would be paid to victims fondled over their clothes, between $15,000 and $40,000 to those fondled under their clothes or subjected to masturbation, from $25,000 to $75,000 to those subjected to forced oral sex, and between $50,000 and $175,000 to those subjected to forced sodomy or intercourse.
Kane further noted that none of the criminal acts detailed in the report can be prosecuted because alleged abusers have died, victims are too traumatized to testify and the statute of limitations on prosecuting cases has expired.
Clergy abuse scandals are not new to the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese.
Sexual abuse allegations first emerged in 2002, when it was discovered that bishops in the Catholic Church area moved abusers from parish to parish instead of defrocking them.
The Roman Catholic Church has been hit by numerous scandals in the past few years, involving allegations of covering up the sexual abuse of children by priests to protect pedophiles and the reputation of the Church.
Approximately 6,900 US Roman Catholic priests were accused of sexual abuse with at least 16,900 young victims between 1950 and 2011, according to data from the US Conference of Catholic Bishops.
The US Catholic Church is already facing severe financial difficulties over settlement payments to victims and other costs totaling around $3 billion, forcing it to sell off assets and cut costs.
A dozen dioceses have filed for bankruptcy in the face of extensive lawsuits, claiming they do not have the resources to pay them.
Pope Francis, who was appointed in 2013 with a mandate to overhaul the Vatican, has warned that there will be “no privileges” for bishops when it comes to child sex offenses. The pontiff also promised more action in response to accusations of cover-up and excessive leniency by the Vatican.