State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Katie Meyer covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.

The State House Sound Bites Podcast is now called State of the State and is a part of PA Post, a digital-first, citizen-focused news organization to hold Pennsylvania’s government accountable to its citizens.

Court: 11 clergy members implicated in abuse report will stay anonymous

Written by Katie Meyer, Capitol Bureau Chief | Dec 3, 2018 8:53 PM
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A grand jury report released in August detailed decades of abuse in six of Pennsylvania's eight Roman Catholic dioceses and implicated 301 clergy members.

 

(Harrisburg) -- The state Supreme Court has decided to permanently redact the names of nearly a dozen current and former Roman Catholic clergy who were implicated in a sweeping grand jury report on sexual abuse of children.

The clerics had argued that since they aren't convicted of a crime, naming them violates their due process rights.

Pennsylvania's constitution guarantees a person's fundamental right to their reputation, and the petitioners' argument hinges on that: while being named in the grand jury report isn't a conviction, it would tarnish a person's name publicly, and might lead to an assumption of guilt.

When the initial report was released this summer, it named over 300 predator clergy and enablers--many of whom are dead.

But it left off 11 names--at first, only temporarily, while justices tried to figure out whether they could give the petitioners due process within accepted grand jury procedures.

Chief Justice Thomas Saylor, who wrote the court's sole dissenting opinion, wanted to grant the petitioners a new hearing to see whether the report's findings are supported by evidence.

But the rest of the justices thought that approach would go beyond the established parameters of a grand jury investigation, and therefore shouldn't be allowed. 

State Attorney General Josh Shapiro, who has pushed to release the full report, said even though he can't release the names, the commonwealth's Roman Catholic dioceses can and should.

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