Maryland Launches Criminal Probe Into Church Sex Abuse

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by David Nussman  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  September 24, 2018   

10th state to have attorney general investigation into Catholic clerical sex abuse cover-up

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BALTIMORE (ChurchMilitant.com) - The state attorney general in Maryland is suiting up to investigate the archdiocese of Baltimore. 

On Monday, the Baltimore archdiocese announced that the attorney general would be investigating clerical sex abuse in the archdiocese. This makes Maryland the 10th state to have an attorney general investigate the Catholic Church for the sex abuse cover-up scandal.

In a letter on the same day, Abp. William Lori told clergy that the archdiocese had been in communication with the attorney general and planned to comply with the investigation.

Archbishop Lori's letter read, "I have informed the attorney general that the archdiocese is supportive of the review and will be fully cooperative throughout the process."


Maryland is the latest in a slew of states with an attorney general investigation into the Catholic Church. In August, the explosive Pennsylvania grand jury report was published, detailing allegations of child sex abuse against some 300 priests and religious across six of the state's eight Catholic dioceses. Amid the aftermath of that bombshell report, attorneys general from across the country became interested in doing something similar in their own states.

Archbishop Lori's letter explained his reasoning for being "supportive" of the attorney general investigating the archdiocese: 

Based on my conversations with people throughout the Archdiocese and from the emails and letters I have received these past weeks, it is clear that we are a Church in crisis and that crisis is one of trust. It is my hope and prayer that this independent review and other acts of transparency by the Archdiocese will bring about greater trust in the Church among those who are understandably skeptical about the Church's handling of allegations of abuse.

The archbishop continued: 

Please join me in praying first for survivors of sexual abuse and for those other members of our Church who are hurting and suffering as a result of this terrible crisis. May I ask you to please pray for me, as I seek to shepherd God's people in such painful times. Finally, be assured for my daily prayers for you and for my gratitude to you for accompanying our people, listening to their righteous anger and reminding them of the goodness and faithfulness of our Church.

On Twitter, Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh recently shared a link for people to report allegations of child sex abuse at schools and churches. The webpage he links to states, "If you were a victim of an abuser associated with a school or place of worship, or you have knowledge of such abuse, please provide the information you want to share about it in the link below."

The webpage then links to an email address for people to send their tips.

It is clear that we are a Church in crisis and that crisis is one of trust.

Since September 2002, the archdiocese of Baltimore has kept a public list of clergy and consecrated religious credibly accused of sexually abusing minors. Most recently, on Sept. 5, the archdiocese added the names of 10 priests and religious brothers who were accused of child sex abuse in the Pennsylvania grand jury report.

These recent additions to the list of accused clergy and religious either ministered in the archdiocese of Baltimore, went to seminary in the archdiocese or were accused of abusing minors at locations within the archdiocese's boundaries. 

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Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore

For example, Fr. Francis Bach of the diocese of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania was accused of taking boys to Maryland and abusing them at an undisclosed location where he owned a boat. But some of the other newly added names of accused clergy are priests who actually ministered in the archdiocese of Baltimore.

On the other hand, some of the accused priests, such as Fr. John Geinzer from Pittsburgh, held key positions at the Baltimore archdiocese's own Mount St. Mary's Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland. 

Geinzer was an associate spiritual director at Mount St. Mary's from 1980 to 1990.

He was also one of only two priests accused by name in the Pennsylvania grand jury report who remain in active ministry. Geinzer was accused of inappropriately touching a 13-year-old boy in 1980, but the diocese of Pittsburgh determined that the allegations against Geinzer were not credible.

 

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