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Jury Report Accuses Diocese of Systematic Deception in Priest Sex Abuse Scandal

A 181-page report issued Monday by the Suffolk County grand jury in New York accused the Long Island Diocese of Rockville Centre of systematic deception and manipulation in its handling of alleged sexual abuse by priests. “Time after time, and despite overwhelming evidence that priests were committing crimes against children, they were willingly sacrificing the truth for fear of scandal and for monetary considerations,” said Suffolk County district attorney Thomas J. Spota at the news conference, reported the New York Times. According to the report, the nation’s sixth largest diocese–serving 1.3 million Catholics in 134 parishes–established “legal affairs” teams purported to assist victims. In reality, the lawyer-priest members protected the church and its 58 abusive priests by dissuading victims from reporting to authorities. “…the only entity that the intervention team protected was the diocese,” charged the report.

Compiled from testimonies of 97 witnesses over nearly nine months of investigation, the jury’s report named neither diocesan leaders nor abusive priests. Due to the five-year statute of limitations, no indictments were filed. Still, the grand jury recommended new laws to remove the limitations for child sexual abuse cases and mandate reporting for all who work with children.

Victims remain disquieted by the report’s findings. “The doors have been blown off the chancery… but will I ever get any satisfaction in the long run? No. The guy who did this to me will never see a day in jail. And I’ll live with what he did to me for the rest of my life,” an unnamed victim told Newsday.

Last month, the New York Times released results from its survey examining the US Catholic priest sex abuse scandal in the last 60 years. To date, over 4,200 claims have been made against more than 1,200 priests.

Sources:

Newsday 2/11/03, 2/12/03; Washington Post 2/11/03; NY Times 2/11/03, 2/12/03; Feminist Daily News Wire

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