The long-awaited 456-page grand jury report detailing decades of sexual abuse and cover-ups within the Archdiocese of Baltimore will be released on Wednesday afternoon.

Victims recount Father Mike’s ‘test of torture’

By Clara Longo de Freitas and Brandon Weigel

At least seven victims reported that Father John Joseph Mike Jr., who served several churches in the Baltimore area, physically abused them. But Mike was only held criminally accountable for one.

The teenage boys, who ranged in age from 13 and 17, were abused between 1975 and 1987.

The parents of one victim approached the archdiocese in April 1987 after learning Mike had put their son through a "test of torture," in which Mike removed the boy's clothes, tied his hands and his body to a tree and whipped him. The boy’s back and chest were cut so badly that he said he was “unable to take a shower.”

Although the parents noticed the welts on their son’s body and did not let him go back to Mike, they initially did not report the incident, hoping it was a one-time event.

However, the victim’s aunt told the boy’s mother she learned of similar abuse from Mike. Her 16-year-old son wrote a diary entry under the title “A tortured soul grows resentment,” and detailed how Mike tied him by the hands from a basketball backboard and whipped him “150 times.”

Mike "seemed to enjoy performing these actions," the boy wrote, and he made the teen swear to secrecy, saying his parents would die and go to hell if he told anyone.

After parents for both boys reported the abuse to the archdiocese, psychologists diagnosed Mike with "sadomasochistic perophilia [sic]."

Members of the archdiocese, whose names were redacted in the report, met up with an attorney and Mike, and he admitted to the abuse. He also admitted to abusing two other boys in Halethorpe, and said he spoke about it with a doctor at the time and with pastor Joseph Maskell, another abuser described in the report.

Both the doctor and Maskell said Mike was "acting out of stress" and did not recommend any treatment.

He later admitted to abusing four other individuals, claiming they were all adults at the time, and that the abuse had a "sexual dimension."

After Mike admitted his guilt, the archdiocese removed him of his duties as a priest and sent him to a five-day inpatient evaluation program at the Johns Hopkins Hospital and then The Institute of Living in Hartford, Connecticut. The latter institution diagnosed Mike with “sexual sadism,” the report said.

Even though the church had removed Mike’s faculties, he was allowed to baptize his nephew, perform a wedding ceremony and participate in a conference, the report said.

In June 1987, the archdiocese reported the abuse allegations to the Howard County State's Attorney's Office. The police charged him with one count of physical child abuse, assault and battery.

Six days later, another boy’s father came forward and said he saw his son carrying a railroad tie with Mike in a field. The priest and the boy then went into a gym for a half an hour, and it appeared the lights were off the entire time.

When the father asked his son what happened, the boy only said he and Mike were making the stations of the cross, the report said.

Even though the scenario sounded similar to other instances of abuse, the archdiocese told the boy’s parents that, after talking with their attorneys, “it seems it would not be a reportable incident since the only activity was carrying a log together from the woods to the gym,” the report said.

They said there might be something more reportable after the boy had undergone therapy.

In September 1987, Mike pleaded guilty to one count of physical child abuse; under the terms of the agreement, the charges of assault and battery were dropped.

Following a brief stint at a church in Connecticut, Mike tried to relocate to another parish. Auxiliary bishop Francis Murphy told Mike in 1988 he would not be placed in Baltimore for at least three years but the Archdiocese of Baltimore could help him find another church in a different state and would be open to the possibility of having him in Maryland again. But the assignments kept falling through.

Mike did not return to ministry, and several other victims came forward in the following years.

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An instance of abuse dating back to the 1940s

By Jasmine Vaughn-Hall

A man in 2002 reported to the archdiocese that his father was sexually abused by Brother Marius, also known as John Francis Shine, at St. Mary’s Industrial School in 1947 or 1948, according to the attorney general’s report.

The victim was sent to live there by his parents and confirmed the abuse to the Archdiocese of Baltimore.

The victim said Shine took a different boy to his room every night. On the night the victim was selected, Shine sexually abused the victim, according to the report. He tried to push Shine away, but Shine beat him with a belt, the report said. The victim ran away from the school only to be returned each time.

The victim told his parents about the abuse who reported it to the head of the school, a Xaverian brother, and to the archdiocese. Nothing was done, according to the report, so the parents removed him from the school.

The victim said there were other Xaverian brothers abusing children at the time. The archdiocese made the mandatory report and notified the Xaverian brothers. Shine was listed as credibly accused by the archdiocese and the Xaverians in 2019.

Between 1921 and 1973, Shine was assigned to at least 10 different places, including schools and churches in Maryland, Michigan, Wisconsin, Kentucky and Massachusetts, according to the report.

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Survivors of abuse express mixed emotions about Baltimore Catholic Church investigation

By Cadence Quaranta and Penelope Blackwell
Elizabeth Murphy, left, and Linda Malat-Tiburzi talk about the release of an investigative report into sexual abuse by Archdiocese of Baltimore personnel. (Kaitlin Newman/The Baltimore Banner)
Elizabeth Murphy, left, and Linda Malat-Tiburzi talk about the release of an investigative report into sexual abuse by Archdiocese of Baltimore personnel. (Kaitlin Newman/The Baltimore Banner)

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.

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 archdioceses of Wilmington and Washington, 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.

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Church referred to records of priests accused of abuse as seminarians as ‘bad boy’ files

By Hallie Miller

A church official referred to records for a handful of priests who committed abuse as seminarians as “bad boy” files in an internal email, according to the attorney general’s report.

The name of the official, who sent an email in 2002 about the files, is redacted in the report.

Among the priests is Father John Banko, who was first accused in 1992 of inappropriate touching and sex solicitation by a victim in a movie theater.

Other seminarians who sexually abused children in Maryland include Father Mark Haight, Father Francis McGrath, Father Bruce Ball, Father Michael LaMountain and Father Raymond Melville, according to the report.

Banko was later accused in 2002 of a decade of abuse against one victim, who is described in the report as a "learning disabled" student at Boys' Latin.

The victim said he was fondled, touched and orally raped by Banko, who continued to visit the victim and his family even after he left Baltimore.

In 2000, Banko was convicted of aggravated sexual assault of an 11-year-old altar boy in New Jersey and sentenced to 18 years in prison. Three men testified during sentencing of being groomed and sexually assaulted by Banko as well.

In 2006, he was sentenced to 26 additional years after being convicted of sexually assaulting another boy at St. Edward the Confessor in 1994 and 1995.

Though the New Jersey prosecutor's office described Banko as a “repetitive and compulsive” sex offender, the Diocese of Metuchen did not comment at the time on whether he would be laicized or could return to active ministry.

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As investigation details abuse, lawmakers approve bill allowing more victim lawsuits

By Callan Tansill-Suddath
Del. Luke Clippinger embraces Del. C.T. Wilson after HB1, the Child Victims Act that Wilson sponsored, passed with an overwhelming majority in the Maryland House of Delegates on Friday, March 31, 2023. Clippinger, a Baltimore City Democrat, leads the committee that considered the bill, and has been a vocal supporter. (Ulysses Muñoz/The Baltimore Banner)
Del. Luke Clippinger embraces Del. C.T. Wilson after HB1, the Child Victims Act that Wilson sponsored, passed with an overwhelming majority in the Maryland House of Delegates on Friday, March 31, 2023. Clippinger, a Baltimore City Democrat, leads the committee that considered the bill, and has been a vocal supporter. (Ulysses Muñoz/The Baltimore Banner)

Maryland lawmakers approved a bill that would eliminate the statute of limitations for victims of child sexual abuse less than an hour after the release of an investigative report detailing decades of abuse within Maryland churches.

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Report recommends archdiocese expand its list of abusers to include deacons, teachers

By Jessica Calefati and Hallie Miller

The Maryland Attorney General’s Office is calling on the Archdiocese of Baltimore to expand its public list of abusive priests and brothers to include deacons and teachers, too, according to the investigative report released Wednesday.

“The focus has understandably been on abuse by priests, but great harm has also been caused by non-clerical members of the archdiocese, like deacons and teachers,” the report states.

One abuser whose name did not appear on the archdiocese’s official list prior to the report, but whose long history of conduct was known by church officials, is Deacon Thomas Kuhl. Kuhl taught at Our Lady of Pompei High School, Our Lady of the Rosary High School and Towson Catholic High School starting in the mid-1980s.

The archdiocese learned about Kuhl’s conduct when a man called in 2006 to report that he had been abused by Kuhl in the mid-1990s, starting when he was 14 years old, according to the report. Kuhl was his religious teacher for many years. Kuhl also directed the choir and led confirmation classes around the time the abuse took place.

The man told church officials that Kuhl first orally raped him after inviting him to his home for dinner. Kuhl told the man not to tell anyone, the report states. Kuhl and another abuser, Eric Price, went on to rape the man orally and anally most Saturday nights for a year, according to the report. The abuse ended on the man’s 16th birthday, when Kuhl invited a strange man to his home so he could watch while they had sex, and the victim refused, the report said.

When the archdiocese investigated the allegation, it learned that Kuhl had been arrested in the 1980s for soliciting an undercover male police officer, per the report. It was rumored that the case was dismissed by a district court judge who knew Kuhl’s father. Father Sylvester Feeley, a pastor at Sacred Heart Parish in the 1980s, said he knew about the arrest at the time it happened, as did other members of the parish.

But even after the archdiocese removed Kuhl from his positions as a deacon and teacher, and imposed a precept barring him from having any contact with a minor, entering church property, or performing any clerical duties, Our Lady of Pompei Pastor Luigi Esposito, another abuser named in the attorney general’s report, allowed Kuhl to participate in Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday services in April 2006, according to the report.

Kuhl was ultimately dismissed by Pope Francis in 2015 after another man contacted the archdiocese and accused him of abuse spanning a decade.

The report also includes recommendations for the state and the archdiocese to increase transparency and make it easier for victims of childhood sex abuse to come forward.

It supports ending the civil statute of limitations for some or all claims of childhood sex abuse, also known as a lookback window.

Correction: This has been updated to reflect the correct spelling of Luigi Esposito’s surname.

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‘Looks like guilt to me,’ survivor says of redactions

By Cadence Quaranta

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

She pointed to lines upon lines blacked out on a packet of pages extracted from a full report given to survivors during a Wednesday morning meeting. “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 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.”

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

35 previously unknown abusers named in report

By Ryan Little

A Banner analysis identified the names of at least 35 clergy who had not previously been publicly accused.

Attorney General launched investigations into Washington and Wilmington archdioceses

By Dylan Segelbaum

Maryland Attorney General Anthony Brown revealed that his office, at the same time it began looking into the Archdiocese of Baltimore launched, investigations into the Archdiocese of Washington and Diocese of Wilmington.

The attorney general’s office, he said, will be as thorough and comprehensive as possible. “We have issued subpoenas. We have been looking into this matter. And we will continue to do so,” Brown said.

‘A weight has been lifted’ with report’s release

By Cadence Quaranta

“I feel great, like a weight has been lifted,” said Linda Malat Tiburzi as she walked out of private meeting with Maryland Attorney General Anthony Brown prior to the report’s release.

Survivors voiced their appreciation to the office and heard a brief introduction of what is in the report, though Malat Tiburzi said there’s “not really anything that I hadn’t already heard.” They 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 no redactions or less redactions.

Elizabeth Murphy said she felt “grateful” for the attorney general’s office and what they had done after the meeting.

“I think the Catholic Church should take the last few days of Holy Week to read the report and meditate on it,” she said.

Malat Tiburzi and Murphy met at the Catholic Community School of Baltimore in 1972 , and both said they were abused by a teacher there, John Merzbacher.

Archbishop Keough grad says Sister Catherine Cesnik ‘protected’ her

By Penelope Blackwell

Chris Centofanti, 71, was a part of the first graduating class of Archbishop Keough High School in Southwest Baltimore.

“I’m happy the report is being published today,” Centofanti said. “This report is redacted, so there’s names we could not see now that we could see in the future.”

She remembered how Sister Catherine Cesnik, a nun who was found slain in 1970, “protected” her from Father Joseph Maskell, a former chaplain at the high school. Cesnik’s murder investigation was featured in the Netflix documentary “The Keepers,” which drew national attention to the sexual abuse of children by priests in the Archdiocese of Baltimore.

“I didn’t realize at the time that she was helping watch out for me,” she said. “She made sure I didn’t interact with him.”

Investigation leads to one indictment, Brown says

By Dylan Segelbaum

Maryland Attorney General Anthony Brown said the grand jury investigation resulted in one indictment: Neil Adleberg, 74, of Randallstown, the former head wrestling coach at Mount Saint Joseph High School, is charged in Baltimore County Circuit Court with sexual abuse of a minor and related offenses.

He’s set to stand trial on June 20, according to online court records.

Law enforcement is not seeking additional criminal charges, according to court documents.

But Brown said he never rules anything out, adding that he encourages anyone with information to reach out.

”If information or evidence comes to our attention that enables us to further seek justice by prosecution,” he said, “then we’ll do that.”

7 parishes had multiple, credible accused abusers

By Hallie Miller
  • St. Mark Church in Catonsville: 11
  • St. Michael the Archangel in Overlea: Six
  • St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception in Cumberland: Six
  • St. Clement Church in Lansdowne: Six
  • St. Thomas More Church in Baltimore: Five
  • Our Lady of Victory in Baltimore: Five
  • St. Clare Catholic Church in Essex: Five

Archdiocese more concerned with avoiding scandal than protecting children, report states

By Kimi Yoshino

The executive summary of the report paints a damning portrait of abuse and cover-up of “horrific and repeated abuse of the most vulnerable children in their communities.”

"Time and again, members of the Church’s hierarchy resolutely refused to acknowledge allegations of child sexual abuse for as long as possible,” the report stated. “When denial became impossible, Church leadership would remove abusers from the parish or school, sometimes with promises that they would have no further contact with children.”

The report notes that church records detail in “disturbing clarity that the Archdiocese was more concerned with avoiding scandal and negative publicity than it was with protecting children.”

Read the report

The Maryland Office of the Attorney General released a 456-page report detailing a state investigation into child sexual abuse within the Archdiocese of Baltimore.

The report identifies 158 priests — most of them already known — within the archdiocese who are accused of the “sexual abuse” and “physical torture” of more than 600 victims over the past 80 years. Investigators told the court there are likely hundreds more victims.

Read the full report here

‘A day of reckoning’

By Dylan Segelbaum

“Today, certainly in Maryland, is a day of reckoning,” Maryland Attorney General Anthony Brown told reporters at a news conference right before the release of the report.

Brown said many people who came forward during the investigation had come forward in the past. But for some, he said, it was the first time.

“What we learned is that the incontrovertible history uncovered by this investigation is one of pervasive, pernicious and persistent abuse by priests and other archdiocese personnel,” Brown said. “It’s also a history of repeated cover-up of that abuse by the Catholic Church.”

He said investigators spoke to hundreds of survivors and witnesses. Though their stories are unique, the absolute authority and power that priests and church leadership held over them, their families and communities was consistent, he said.

Brown said his office hoped to make public for the first time the “enormous scope and scale of the abuse and concealment perpetrated by the Archdiocese of Baltimore.”

He said he wishes that exposing those transgressions will bring about some measure of accountability and encourage other survivors to come forward.

Before the news conference, Brown privately met with survivors of clergy sexual abuse. He commended them for their courage and candor for sharing their stories.

"Upstairs, I did not see child victims,” he said. “I saw men and women who are survivors.”

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