Earlier this week, the Maryland Office of the Attorney General released its long-awaited 456-page grand jury report on the “long and sordid” history of sexual abuse and cover-ups within the Archdiocese of Baltimore.
During the course of 80 years, the Archdiocese of Baltimore, the report found, concealed pervasive abuse of hundreds of children.
“The incontrovertible history uncovered by this investigation is one of pervasive and persistent abuse by priests and other Archdiocese personnel,” the report states. “It is also a history of repeated dismissal or cover up of that abuse by the Catholic Church hierarchy.”
Here’s a look at what could come next, including whether redactions will remain in the report, survivors will receive the ability to sue and people will face criminal prosecution.
More litigation over redactions
When Baltimore Circuit Judge Robert K. Taylor Jr. directed the release of the report, he wrote in an order that “the need for disclosure outweighs the need for secrecy.”
“Keeping this report from the public is an injustice,” Taylor said. “The only form of justice that may now be available is a public reckoning.”
Taylor instructed prosecutors to redact the names of people accused of committing or covering up abuse whose identities were solely or primarily gathered through grand jury subpoenas and notify them of their inclusion in the report.
They will have the opportunity to review parts of the document that refer to themselves behind closed doors and respond in court.
It’s unclear how long it will take for that process to play out. The court docket remains sealed.
In a statement, Terence McKiernan, president of BishopAccountability.org, a nonprofit organization that documents sexual abuse within the Catholic Church, called the report a “shocking addition to our understanding of clergy abuse of children in Baltimore.”
But McKiernan said redacting the names of people who are responsible, as well as the discussion of their actions, ruins an important contribution of the report.
“It is essential that these redactions be removed and that the report be reissued with the redacted names and text restored,” McKiernan said.
Speaking at a news conference, Attorney General Anthony Brown emphasized that the redactions might not be permanent.
“I can’t say today what the outcomes will eventually be, but there may be some redactions that are later disclosed,” Brown said.
Brown appeared on “CNN Newsroom” Thursday and addressed the redactions, stating that his office will argue that the names should be revealed.
Survivors set to gain expanded ability to file lawsuits
The Maryland General Assembly also this week passed the Child Victims Act of 2023, which greatly expands the ability of survivors of sexual abuse to file lawsuits that would otherwise be barred under the statute of limitations against institutions.
The legislation limits damages such as pain and suffering against private institutions to $1.5 million. Meanwhile, the measure limits judgments against public institutions to $890,000.
Now, the bill is headed to the desk of Gov. Wes Moore, a Democrat, who has stated that he will sign it into law.
The Archdiocese of Baltimore had urged parishioners to oppose the legislation and noted that more than two dozen dioceses have filed for bankruptcy in the United States.
The law would take effect on Oct. 1, but some have raised questions about the constitutionality of the measure and expect it to face challenges in court.
Will people face criminal charges?
The investigation resulted in one indictment.
Neil Adleberg, the former head wrestling coach at Mount Saint Joseph High School, was charged in 2022 in Baltimore County Circuit Court with sexual abuse of a minor and related offenses. He’s scheduled to stand trial on June 20, according to online court records.
Brown revealed that his office has also been looking into the Archdiocese of Washington and the Diocese of Wilmington. He described those investigations as ongoing and promised those reviews will be thorough and comprehensive.
Law enforcement was not pursuing additional criminal cases, according to court documents.
But Brown told reporters that he never rules anything out. He has encouraged anyone with information to contact his office at (410) 576-6312 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Said Brown: “It’s hard to predict what information may come available to us.”