Shortly before the release of Wednesday’s explosive report, Maryland Attorney General Anthony Brown met with survivors who’d been abused as children by Archdiocese of Baltimore personnel decades ago.

Kurt Rupprecht, who said he was sexually and physically abused in 1979, called the meeting “tremendous.”

“The time today with Attorney General Brown was heartfelt and inspiring, and we’re just deeply grateful,” he said.

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The survivors thanked Brown, and he thanked them, Rupprecht said, and discussed some next steps — specifically the need to do a full investigation into abuse in the Archdiocese of Washington and Diocese of Wilmington, as well.

Survivors who attended were also handed a packet of pages extracted from the full report. Officials explained why some names were redacted, and said they ultimately hoped to have a report come out with fewer redactions or none at all.

“We need the rest of the people out there on the street or in the pews to realize how extreme, widespread and, frankly, violent and vile this behavior has been, and it’s behavior that could certainly repeat itself if not properly exposed or addressed,” Rupprecht said.

Linda Malat Tiburzi felt a sense of relief walking out of that meeting, “like a weight has been lifted,” she said.

Malat Tiburzi and her friend Elizabeth Murphy attended the Catholic Community School of Baltimore in the 1970s. Their teacher, John Merzbacher, was convicted on rape charges in Murphy’s case, and Malat Tiburzi has also accused Merzbacher of abuse.

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“I think the Catholic Church should take the last few days of Holy Week to read the report and meditate on it,” she said. “No business or institution in the state of Maryland should be allowed to operate with impunity in our state.”

The Attorney General’s office released the Catholic Church Investigation papers.  Jean Hargadon (glasses) Teresa Lancaster,  holds a redacted copy of the release.
Jean Hargadon Wehner, left, and Teresa Lancaster hold copies of a redacted investigative report on child sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of Baltimore. (Kaitlin Newman/The Baltimore Banner)

Teresa Lancaster, standing outside the attorney general’s office, said she was hoping for much more.

She pointed to lines upon lines blacked out in a packet of pages from the report. “What kind of investigative report is this, if you’re going to be able to black out everything?”

Lancaster said she wants to see the names of the people who allowed the abuse to go on for years exposed in the report, and she is going to work to try to make that happen. “We are not going to go away,” she said. “We’re not finished. We’re going to motion to get these names un-redacted.”

“That to me shows guilt,” she said, pointing to rows of redactions under the headline “Church Leadership.” “This looks like guilt to me.”

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If someone had stopped her abuser, who had abused boys and was then transferred to a girls’ school, “I wouldn’t have been abused,” she said, along with “countless others.”

Kurt Wolfgang, executive director of the Maryland Crime Victims’ Resource Center, Inc., who represents several victims of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, called Wednesday “a happy day and long time coming,” but said he and his clients are disappointed with some of the redactions. He said they are seeking indictments of more alleged abusers.

Abbie Schaub, who investigated sexual abuse at Southwest Baltimore’s Archbishop Keough High School and rose to fame in the 2017 Netflix documentary “The Keepers,” said she felt mixed emotions Wednesday afternoon. “I feel pride that we old women have stuck together, sadness and pain that we’re going to have to read these stories, foreboding wondering how the archdiocese is going to respond,” she said, “and relief that we’re finally getting some traction.”

She plans to print out a hard copy when she gets home, she said, and read it over the next few days.

She is particularly interested, she said, in information about Joseph Maskell, a former chaplain at the high school. “When did they know?” she asked of the Archdiocese of Baltimore. “How many people came to them to report abuse and they did nothing?”

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penelope.blackwell@thebaltimorebanner.com

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