The Archdiocese of Baltimore is linked to more than 600 cases of child sexual abuse and a plan to cover up over 60 years of abuse, according to a partially redacted report released Wednesday by Maryland Attorney General Anthony Brown.
The nearly 500-page report details sexual abuse allegations against "156 current or former Catholic clergy, seminarians, deacons, members of Catholic religious orders, teachers at Catholic schools, and other employees of the Archdiocese in the Baltimore area." It also includes 43 other clergy who resided within the Archdiocese but "committed sexual abuse outside the Archdiocese of Baltimore."
What names are redacted in this report?
The report's release follows a four-year investigation conducted via grand jury subpoenas. Under state law, those proceedings and findings are kept confidential.
Lawyers for the state petitioned the court for permission to release their findings, an effort the Archdiocese of Baltimore declared late last year it would not oppose.
In February, Baltimore Circuit Court Judge Robert Taylor ruled the report is in the public's interest and should be released.
“The need for disclosure outweighs the need for secrecy,” Taylor wrote.
He ordered the report be partially redacted before its release. Taylor ordered prosecutors to redact the names and titles of 37 people in the report. Those people are accused of either committing or enabling abuse and will be contacted to review their sections of the report. Depending on their responses, Taylor may restore their names and allow re-publication of the report.
In 60 other cases, Taylor ordered the attorney general's office to rephrase the report to avoid identification of individuals.
In 91 cases, Taylor said the accused are deceased and found no reason to redact their names.
Some of the accused priests named in the report have reportedly been previously publicly identified by the Baltimore Archdiocese, according to The Associated Press.
Will this report spark new laws in Maryland?
Maryland lawmakers are considering lifting the statute of limitations on civil lawsuits filed against institutions for child sexual abuse. As Maryland law stands today, alleged victims cannot sue after the age of 38 despite evidence that many victims do not come forward until closer to the age of 50.
Lawmakers have for years debated revisions to the statute of limitations, but the reported release of this report is generating new support.
The Maryland Senate passed legislation on March 16 that would repeal the statute of limitations without limit. The Child Victims Act of 2023 is a similar bill being considered in the Maryland House, which is widely expected to pass. Gov. Wes Moore has announced his support for the bill.
But the Maryland Catholic Conference has called the legislation “unconstitutional," saying it goes beyond what is "fair." It called the idea "draconian" and "unprecedented" and has warned it could bankrupt the Archdiocese of Baltimore.
Do other states have statutes of limitations on child sex abuse claims?
There are no statutes of limitations for child sexual abuse in 15 states, according to Child USAdvocacy.