One, a former Erie priest who testified that he was molested when he was a teenager, called the experience cathartic. Another victim did not fare well after testifying. She attempted suicide and from her hospital bed implored the grand jurors to complete their investigation and make their findings public, according to a source who had been briefed on her account.
According to one of the few court documents that has been made public, the case has drawn dozens of witnesses and nearly a half-million pages of internal church documents. As a result, the more than page report has become the target of an intense but secret legal battle, as a group of unnamed individuals have waged a fight under court seal to delay its public release.
The grand jury report is not expected to include criminal charges, according to people familiar with the content. The first investigation was led by former District Attorney Lynne M. Abraham, who released a scathing grand jury report in detailing decades of child sexual abuse by scores of Philadelphia area priests. We must listen to that voice and learn from it. The move by Judge Norman A. Krumenacker III to unseal his opinion was unusual, as grand jury proceedings are typically shrouded in secrecy.
The judge denied their request, saying it would upend the role of the grand jury, which he said was to investigate rather than adjudicate. It is not known if they did, as they are allowed to do so under court seal. Their lawyers either declined comment or did not return calls. Those who accepted phone calls refused to reveal the identities of their clients. That has never happened before. But that is where agreement ended.
Opponents, notably the Catholic Church, argued that it would unfairly cripple, if not bankrupt, parishes and members who bear no blame for the past misconduct of clergy. But the GOP-controlled House passed a bill that includes retroactivity , setting the stage for an uncomfortable political stalemate that, in the end, killed any chance of a change in the law for both future and past victims. This time around, supporters of retroactivity say, it will be difficult for legislators to ignore the impact of the scandal.
Mark Rozzi, a Democratic lawmaker from Berks County who has championed the push for retroactivity in the Capitol. In a current bill, he proposes a two-year exception to the statute of limitations that would allow victims to file civil suits. Rozzi, who was abused as a child by a priest, is among the hundreds who testified before the grand jury.
And denying them justice? Though he has struggled with alcohol dependency and panic attacks — and has experienced flashbacks for the first time since testifying — he was heartened the grand jurors listened. She was said to have asked the jurors for one thing: