The Archdiocese of Baltimore recently published a comprehensive, damning list of clergy members accused of child sexual abuse. The list, which was released on the Archdiocese’s website, includes more than 150 names of individuals who were accused of abuse between 1939 and 2021. With over 600 recorded victims, the majority of the accusations took place between the 1960s and 1980s.
One deacon admitted to molesting over 100 children. Another priest was allowed to feign hepatitis treatment and make other excuses to avoid facing abuse allegations.
The Archdiocese of Baltimore’s list is an effort to be transparent and address the Catholic Church’s ongoing sex abuse scandal. The list is organized into four categories: 1) those who have been found guilty in a canonical or civil trial, 2) those who have been named in a lawsuit that has been settled, 3) those who have been accused in a lawsuit that is still pending, and 4) those who have been accused but are deceased or have left the ministry.
The report accompanying the list details the allegations, dates of the abuse, and actions taken by the Archdiocese in response to the claims. To safeguard confidential grand jury materials, the report was redacted, resulting in the removal of identities of certain accused clergy.
The Baltimore report says church leaders were focused on keeping abuse hidden, not on protecting victims or stopping abuse. In some situations, victims reported abuse to priests who were abusive themselves. And when law enforcement did become aware of abuse allegations, police and prosecutors were often deferential and “uninterested in probing what church leaders knew and when,” according to the report.
The release of the list has received mixed reactions. While some appreciate the Archdiocese’s transparency, others argue that the list is incomplete and lacks information on how the Church dealt with the accused. Victims’ advocates believe that the list is a step in the right direction, but they also emphasize the need for more comprehensive investigations and greater accountability within the Church.
Victims said the report was a long-overdue public reckoning with shameful accusations the church has been facing for decades.
Jean Hargadon Wehner said she was abused in Baltimore as a teen by A. Joseph Maskell, a priest who served as her Catholic high school counselor and chaplain. She said she reported her abuse to church officials in the early ’90s when her memories of the trauma finally surfaced about two decades after she was repeatedly raped.
“I expected them to do the right thing in 1992,” she told reporters Wednesday. “I’m still angry.”
Baltimore Archbishop William Lori, in a statement posted online, apologized to the victims and said the report “details a reprehensible time in the history of this Archdiocese, a time that will not be covered up, ignored or forgotten.” Since the 1980s, the Baltimore Archdiocese has provided more than $13.2 million in care and compensation to 301 abuse victims, including $6.8 million for 105 voluntary settlements.
Lori said the report was “an important step in our ongoing efforts to be transparent and accountable,” and he acknowledged the “deep pain and suffering” of the victims. The report is intended to encourage other victims to come forward and seek help. However, critics claim that the list is an attempt to control the narrative and maintain the Church’s image.
The release of the Baltimore Archdiocese’s list follows similar efforts by other dioceses in the United States. In recent years, many dioceses have published lists of accused clergy members as part of a broader effort to address the issue of sexual abuse within the Church. Despite these efforts, some victims’ advocates argue that the Church has not done enough to hold abusive clergy accountable and prevent future abuse.
In conclusion, the Archdiocese of Baltimore’s decision to publish a list of clergy accused of child sexual abuse is an important step toward transparency and accountability. The report accompanying the list provides details on the allegations and actions taken by the Archdiocese in response. However, victims’ advocates argue that more comprehensive investigations and greater accountability within the Church are still needed to prevent future abuse and support survivors.