CRIME

Victims criticize church after Catholic sex abuse report

Apr 6, 2023, 2:20 PM

Kurt Rupprecht speaks about the abuse he suffered after the release of the redacted report on child...

Kurt Rupprecht speaks about the abuse he suffered after the release of the redacted report on child sexual abuse in the Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore by the Maryland Attorney General's Office on Wednesday, April 6, 2023, in Baltimore. (Kim Hairston/The Baltimore Sun via AP)

(Kim Hairston/The Baltimore Sun via AP)

BALTIMORE (AP) — While the Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore has long touted its transparency in publishing the names of clergy credibly accused of sexual abuse, a report released this week by the Maryland attorney general’s office raises questions about whether the church’s list is incomplete.

Following the report’s long-awaited release Wednesday, victims and advocates called on the Baltimore archbishop to address discrepancies — their latest demand for transparency in a decadeslong fight to expose the church’s coverup tactics.

They also celebrated a major step toward potential legal recourse: state legislation passed Wednesday that would eliminate the existing statute of limitations on civil litigation against institutions like the archdiocese in cases of child sexual abuse. Similar proposals failed in recent years, but the attorney general’s investigation brought renewed attention to the issue this legislative session. The bill has been sent to Gov. Wes Moore, who has said he supports it.

The report reveals the scope of over eight decades of abuse and coverup within the Archdiocese of Baltimore. More than 150 Catholic priests and others associated with the archdiocese sexually abused over 600 children and often escaped accountability, the investigation found.

The report also names 39 people who aren’t included on the archdiocese’s list, which officials first published in 2002 and have continued to update since.

The Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, known as SNAP, said in a statement Wednesday that some omissions “might be understandable,” but called for the archbishop to “err on the side of being more transparent” for the sake of victims and others.

The archdiocese acknowledged the discrepancies in a statement Thursday, saying none of the 39 people are currently serving in ministry in the Baltimore area, and at least 33 have died. Archdiocese spokesperson Christian Kendzierski said most didn’t make the list because they are laypeople, including deacons and teachers; they were never assigned to ministry in the Archdiocese of Baltimore; or they were first accused posthumously and received only a single, uncorroborated allegation.

Kendzierski said the archdiocese is reviewing its list “in light of the Attorney General’s report” and expects to add more names soon. The report recommended expanding the list to include non-priests, which officials are also reviewing.

When Cardinal William Keeler released the Baltimore list in 2002, his decision earned the diocese a reputation for transparency at a time when the nationwide scope of wrongdoing remained largely unexposed. But years later, a Pennsylvania grand jury accused Keeler himself of covering up abuse allegations in the 1980s.

While Baltimore was among the first, other dioceses across the country have published similar lists in the years since.

“But there’s always the concern that even credibly accused people have been left off these lists,” said Terence McKiernan, president of BishopAccountability.org, which tracks clergy abuse nationwide. “Now, in Baltimore, we have confirmation that’s what was happening.”

Several of the clergy members not on the church’s list had been asked to leave the ministry, according to the report. In some cases, church officials engaged in mediation or agreed to financial settlements with victims — actions that suggest the allegations were considered credible, McKiernan said.

For example, one victim repeatedly contacted church officials in the late 1990s and early 2000s to report abuse he experienced in the 1930s at the hands of Father Alphonsus Figlewski, who would take altar boys on Baltimore’s streetcars and touch them inappropriately, according to the report. The diocese ultimately engaged in mediation and reached a settlement, the report says — but Figlewski was never listed as a credibly accused priest.

One of the church officials who reviewed the case, Father Michael Kolodziej, was himself later accused of abuse and included on the list.

“They talk about being transparent, but it’s time for this diocese to take responsibility,” said David Lorenz, director of the Maryland Chapter of SNAP.

Lorenz and others advocated strongly for the legislation passed Wednesday that eliminated the statute of limitations for civil lawsuits.

Currently, victims of child sex abuse in Maryland can’t sue after they turn 38. The bill, if signed into law by Moore, would eliminate the age limit and allow for retroactive lawsuits. However, the measure includes a provision that would pause lawsuits until the Supreme Court of Maryland can determine whether it’s constitutional.

The Maryland Catholic Conference, which represents the three dioceses serving Maryland, opposed the measure, contending it was unconstitutional to open an unlimited retroactive window for civil cases.

“While there is clearly no financial compensation that can ever rectify the harm done to a survivor of sexual abuse, the devastating impact that the retroactive window provision will potentially have by exposing public and private institutions — and the communities they serve — to unsubstantiated claims of abuse, cannot be ignored,” the group said in written testimony.

___

Associated Press reporter Brian Witte contributed to this report from Annapolis. Sarah Brumfield contributed from Silver Spring.

KSL 5 TV Live

Crime

FILE - Attorney General Merrick Garland speaks at the Department of Justice, on Aug. 11, 2023, in W...

Larry D. Curtis

Justice Department says Phoenix police violated rights. Here are some cases that drew criticism

Phoenix police use unjustified deadly force, discriminate against people of color and routinely violate the rights of homeless people, the Justice Department said in announcing the results of a sweeping civil rights investigation.

2 hours ago

FILE - The 1200 building at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., is seen, Oct. 2...

Terry Spencer, Associated Press

Six years after the Parkland school massacre, the bloodstained building will finally be demolished

The demolition of the building where 17 people died in the 2018 Parkland school shooting is set to begin. Crews will begin tearing down the three-story building at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Friday.

21 hours ago

Cedar City police said one person was hospitalized and another was taken into custody following an ...

Mark Jones and Michael Houck, KSL TV

1 person in custody, another hospitalized in alleged road rage incident in Cedar City

Cedar City police said one person was hospitalized and another was taken into custody following an alleged road rage incident on Wednesday afternoon.

1 day ago

Sandy police car...

Eliza Pace

Sandy man kills wife, then himself, police say

A married couple was found dead with gunshot wounds on June 8 following an argument.

1 day ago

Police say they arrested a man Friday in the investigation of a violent murder in West Valley City....

Teresa Crawford, Associated Press

3 deputies shot while responding to northern Illinois home, suspect also wounded, official says

Authorities say three sheriff’s deputies have been shot while responding to a northern Illinois home.

1 day ago

Salt Lake City police releaseD a photo of a man wanted in connection to the June 3 theft of a Lambo...

Josh Ellis

Police ask for public’s help to locate suspect who stole $230K Lamborghini from SLC airport

Police are asking for help to locate a man who allegedly stole a Lamborghini from the Salt Lake airport this month.

1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Photo courtesy of Artists of Ballet West...

Ballet West

The rising demand for ballet tickets: why they’re harder to get

Ballet West’s box office is experiencing demand they’ve never seen before, leaving many interested patrons unable to secure tickets they want.

Electrician repairing ceiling fan with lamps indoors...

Lighting Design

Stay cool this summer with ceiling fans

When used correctly, ceiling fans help circulate cool and warm air. They can also help you save on utilities.

Side view at diverse group of children sitting in row at school classroom and using laptops...

PC Laptops

5 internet safety tips for kids

Read these tips about internet safety for kids so that your children can use this tool for learning and discovery in positive ways.

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why printer security should be top of mind for your business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light up your home with these top lighting trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for hassle-free computer repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Victims criticize church after Catholic sex abuse report