A Baltimore judge has approved the release of a redacted copy of the long-awaited report detailing the history of child sexual abuse within the Archdiocese of Baltimore and coverup by church leaders.

In an order Tuesday, Baltimore Circuit Judge Robert Taylor Jr. cleared the way for the attorney general’s office to redact and release the 456-page investigation titled “Clergy Abuse in Maryland.”

The judge approved plans to redact 37 names from the report and to rewrite portions to omit identifying information for another 60 people. It’s not immediately clear how long it will take the attorney general’s office to redact and issue the report. But survivors and their advocates expressed hope that after years of waiting the report will soon be available to read.

“Survivors can now feel some degree of vindication now as they strive for transparency, accountability, and justice,” attorney Robert Jenner, who represents survivors, wrote in an email.

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The Maryland Attorney General’s Office spent nearly four years compiling the grand jury investigation. In November, the office asked the courts for permission to release their findings to the public. The request brought months of litigation — the hearings and legal motions were sealed — as attorneys for the church, survivors and individuals named in the report weighed in on whether it should be released.

There was much at stake in the litigation. Survivors saw a chance for healing through a public reckoning of the church’s crimes. Diocese in other states, meanwhile, have filed for bankruptcy when faced with the prospect of a flood of lawsuits over old cases of sexual abuse.

Taylor ordered the report released, writing that he wanted it brought out in time to be considered by lawmakers in Annapolis. They are debating legislation to give more adult survivors the chance to sue the church and other institutions complicit in the abuse.

Survivors and advocates have demanded for years the accounting of the church’s crimes and the release of the report brings a victory for them, if only partially.

The exterior of the Archdiocese of Baltimore building as seen on Monday, March 13.
The exterior of the Archdiocese of Baltimore building as seen on Monday, March 13. (Ulysses Muñoz/The Baltimore Banner)

The judge had previously agreed to redact as many as 200 names of people identified in the report, including people accused of enabling the abuse. The step was intended to avoid months of litigation before any of the report comes out. Attorneys will now begin arguments over which redactions should stand before the release of a second and more complete copy.

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“These proposed redactions include individuals who are living, are accused of abuse, hiding abuse, enabling abuse, assisting in the cover-up of abuse, or protecting abusers from the consequences of their action, and whose identities were revealed as a result of the grand jury subpoenas,” the attorney general’s office said in a news release.

The investigation resulted in one indictment. Former Mount Saint Joseph wrestling coach Neil Adleberg is scheduled for trial in June on six counts including charges of sexual abuse of a minor, solicitation of a minor and second-degree rape. The judge noted that as of last month state investigators are seeking no other criminal indictments.

This story may be updated.

tim.prudente@thebaltimorebanner.com

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