Monsignor Philip Saylor, who was a key aide to Bishop Hogan, reportedly told the grand jury that the church held a strong sway over even police and civil authorities in eight counties. Those officials would simply “defer to the diocese” when priests were accused of abuse, the report said.
In one of the more egregious cases, according to the grand jury, Monsignor Francis McCaa was described as a “monster.”
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At least 15 boys between ages 8 to 15 belonging to Holy Name Church in Ebensburg were groped and fondled during his 20 years there, the report said. The children were abused during confession, and at least one of them later committed suicide, according to the grand jury.
McCaa died in 2007 after 59 years as a priest.
Adamec, meanwhile, refused to testify in front of the grand jury, citing possible self-incrimination.
In a filing, his attorney said he forced 14 accused priests to undergo psychiatric evaluation: nine were removed or suspended, while the other five who were brought back supposedly didn’t re-offend.
“Bishop Adamec’s handling of abuse allegations has no similarity to other clergy abuse scandals,” his attorney wrote.
“OVER MANY YEARS, HUNDREDS OF CHILDREN HAVE FALLEN VICTIM TO CHILD PREDATORS WRAPPED IN THE AUTHORITY AND INTEGRITY OF AN HONORABLE FAITH.”
The diocese’s current bishop, Mark Bartchak, is not accused of any wrongdoing. He has worked to suspend some of the priests named in the report.
“I deeply regret any harm that has come to children,” Bartchak said in a statement.
The Catholic church’s history of child sex abuse became a national scandal in 2002 when The Boston Globe investigated how high-ranking officials covered up cases of priests who molested children. The expose became the subject of the Oscar-winning film, “Spotlight.”
In response to the Pennsylvania grand jury’s findings, the state’s Office of Victim Advocate said it was “disgusted and saddened” by a cover-up that has involved hundreds of victims without any real punishment.
“What is further troubling in this case is that the ‘victim advocate’ assigned to these cases was in fact solely advocating on behalf of the church,” Victim Advocate Jennifer Storm said in a statement. “This is a gross manipulation in what victim advocates are in place to do and highlights the need for truly independent victim advocates whose only interests are for the safety and well being of the crime victims.”
The grand jury in its report suggested several recommendations in protecting any future victims. Those include abolishing the statute of limitations for sexual offenses against minors and urging state lawmakers to suspend the civil statute of limitations on sexual abuse claims.