Oldest Roman Catholic Archdiocese In U.S. Accused Of Covering Up Over 600 Child Sex Abuse Reports: Officials
Karl Merton Ferron/The Baltimore Sun/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

More than six hundred children suffered sexual abuse by at least 150 Baltimore-area clergy members and other Archdiocese personnel, according to a Maryland Attorney General’s report published in the middle of Holy Week, detailing over 80 years of covering up the scandals.

The Maryland Office of the Attorney General launched a Grand Jury investigation into the Archdiocese of Baltimore in 2018, listing a total of 156 clergy members, deacons, seminaries, teachers, and other employees of the Archdiocese as abusers in “hundreds of thousands” of documents dating back to the 1940s — although officials said the number of victims is likely far higher than outlined in the nearly 500-page report.

Such documents reveal with “disturbing clarity” that the Archdiocese, the first diocese established in the United States, allegedly protected accused clergy members from scandal and negative publicity rather than vulnerable children in their communities. In some cases, church leaders would allegedly offer those accused a chance to retire with financial support.

“Time and again, members of the Church’s hierarchy resolutely refused to acknowledge allegations of child sexual abuse for as long as possible,” the report reads. “When denial became impossible, Church leadership would remove abusers from the parish or school, sometimes with promises that they would have no further contact with children.”

Maryland Attorney General Anthony Brown, who took office in January, said during a press conference Wednesday the investigation shows the “incontrovertible history uncovered by this investigation is one of pervasive, pernicious and persistent abuse by priests and other archdiocese personnel,” adding most of the alleged abusers listed in the report would not face prosecution as they have passed away.

“It’s also a history of repeated coverup of that abuse by the Catholic Church hierarchy,” Brown said.

The document primarily focuses on alleged sex abuse within the Boston diocese’s systematic cover-up before 2002, following The Boston Globe exposing large numbers of reports across the country of individual abusive priests who got away with molesting children, bringing national attention to the scale and pervasiveness of the crisis. The revelations encouraged hundreds of victims to come forward with allegations of abuse, resulting in nearly 250 criminal cases and numerous lawsuits.

Victims of the alleged abusers told The Associated Press the report was a “long-overdue public reckoning with shameful accusations the church has been facing for decades.”


Jean Hargadon Wehner said her priest, Father Joseph Maskell, abused her in Baltimore during her teenage years in the early 1990s.

Wehner said she initially reported the repeated sexual abuse by Maskell, who also served as her Catholic high school’s counselor and chaplain, to church officials.

“I expected them to do the right thing in 1992,” she told The Associated Press on Wednesday. “I’m still angry.”

Maskell, according to the report, sexually abused at least 39 victims, which he denied before his death in 2001, evading criminal charges.

Kurt Rupprecht, another victim of abuse, told reporters he and others were present to “speak the truth and never stop.”

“We deal with this every day,” Rupprecht said. “It is our life sentence.”

Maryland lawmakers passed a bill ending a statute of limitations on abuse-related civil lawsuits on Wednesday, which now heads to Governor Wes Moore, who has said he supports it, AP reported.

Baltimore archdiocese officials said the church had paid more than $13.2 million for care and compensation for 301 abuse victims since the 1980s, including $6.8 million toward 105 voluntary settlements, according to AP.

Baltimore Archbishop William Lori apologized to the victims in a statement, saying the report “details a reprehensible time in the history of this Archdiocese, a time that will not be covered up, ignored or forgotten.”

“It is difficult for most to imagine that such evil acts could have actually occurred,” Lori said. “For victim-survivors everywhere, they know the hard truth: These evil acts did occur.”

Pennsylvania’s then-Attorney General Josh Shapiro revealed in a 2018 investigation that over 300 Catholic priests sexually abused more than 1,000 children.

The report comes nearly two months after an independent panel studying child abuse in the Roman Catholic Church in Portugal found that members of the church — mainly priests — sexually abused more than 4,800 children over the past 70 years.

The Independent Committee for the Study of Child Abuse in the Catholic Church released its final 500-page report Monday to the Associated Press, which Portuguese bishops set up just over a year ago to look into the alleged historical abuse in the church from 1950 to the present day.

So far, 512 alleged victims have made accusations.

Pedro Strecht, a child psychiatrist who led the commission, told Reuters that at least 4,815 children were abused, adding those accusations are “the tip of the iceberg.”

Editor’s note: This article’s headline has been updated to reflect that the Archdiocese of Baltimore is the oldest Catholic archdiocese in the U.S., not the oldest church.

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The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  Oldest Roman Catholic Archdiocese In U.S. Accused Of Covering Up Over 600 Child Sex Abuse Reports: Officials