Survivors of priest sexual abuse honored The Baltimore Banner on Sunday for a series of investigative news stories that identified seven church figures accused of abusing children.
The names of these seven people had been hidden under a court order. Banner reporters used court documents, archdiocesan records, church directories, school yearbooks, census and property records to name the six men and one woman in a series of articles published in May and June.
These people are among more than a dozen whose names are redacted in the Maryland Attorney General’s Report on the history of child sexual abuse within the Archdiocese of Baltimore. More than 600 victims suffered sexual abuse or physical torture at the hands of church figures in the past 80 years, according to the report.
The nonprofit Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, SNAP, the largest survivor organization, honored The Banner for “outstanding investigative journalism” during its weekend conference in Arlington, Virginia. The survivors have repeatedly called for all the names to come out, arguing that healing isn’t possible without full public accountability.
“Children are safer because of you,” SNAP wrote on the award presented to The Banner.
SNAP also honored The Baltimore Sun for identifying three accused church figures and five church officials whose names are redacted in the 456-page report.
The church officials are blamed in the report for turning a blind eye to allegations of abuse or protecting accused priests. Terry McKiernan, the founder of BishopAccountability.org, a Massachusetts nonprofit, identified one of the officials. The Sun also identified that official and four others whose names were previously unknown.
Meanwhile, Baltimore Circuit Judge Robert Taylor Jr. continues to consider whether a second version of the report should be published with all redactions stripped out. The judge heard legal arguments on the issue last month.
His order to lift the redactions would mark a victory for survivors if only in principle. The combined efforts of The Banner and The Sun have identified all the redacted names.