Report on clergy abuse in limbo, awaiting decision from Pa. Supreme Court

The moon rises behind St. Benedict The Moor Catholic church in Pittsburgh Saturday, Nov. 12, 2016. Pittsburgh is one of six Roman Catholic Dioceses that was the focus of a sealed grand jury investigation across Pennsylvania. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

The moon rises behind St. Benedict The Moor Catholic church in Pittsburgh Saturday, Nov. 12, 2016. Pittsburgh is one of six Roman Catholic Dioceses that was the focus of a sealed grand jury investigation across Pennsylvania. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

The Pennsylvania District Attorney Association is the latest group to support releasing the grand jury investigation into decades of sexual abuse and cover-up in six Roman Catholic Dioceses across the state.

The report — the culmination of a two-year investigation by the Attorney General’s office into the Allentown, Erie, Greensburg, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh and Scranton Dioceses — was expected to be made public last month. But it was delayed by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court due to appeals from unnamed clergy members who say their due process rights will be violated by its release.

Identified only by initials, several former and current clergy members question the facts of the report and say the release of the investigation would wrongly damage their reputations.

Attorneys for the unnamed clergy members said they’re not trying to silence the grand jury, but to ensure the accuracy of the report.

According to the latest court documents, one minister is seeking the court’s protection from revealing his medical and mental health records in the report, which he claims are confidential and would breach physician-patient privilege.

Court records show dozens of witnesses testified before the grand jury and thousands of internal documents from the church have been reviewed.

Bishops from all six dioceses were permitted to testify before the grand jury.  Five submitted written statements and one appeared in person.

“There is due process in the system.  If someone is named, they have the opportunity to review the report, make comments,” said Richard Long, executive director at the Pennsylvania District Attorney Association.  “But that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re afforded the ability to block the report which is what apparently some individuals are doing in this case.”

The Attorney General’s latest arguments for lifting the stay are expected to be made public Tuesday afternoon.

“The people of Pennsylvania have a right to see the report, know who is attempting to block its release and why, and to hear the voices of the victims of sexual abuse within the Church,” said Attorney General Josh Shapiro in a previously released statement.

WHYY, the lead partner station of Keystone Crossroads, along with several other media outlets is petitioning the court for the report’s disclosure.

The pending report follows previous investigations into the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown in 2016 and two investigations into the Archdiocese of Philadelphia in 2005 and 2011.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.