Advocates: Harrisburg diocese must do more to prevent clergy abuse

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More than 70 priests and other members of the Harrisburg diocese are accused of sexually abusing children since the 1940’s.

Many of the accused are dead, and most of the allegations are decades old.

“We have taken additional measures and continue to improve our efforts to protect children,” Bishop William Gainer said.

The diocese screens all employees and volunteers with state and federal background checks, 
but those checks don’t address everything.

Father William Cawley, for example, worked at York Catholic for more than a decade. Cawley is accused of sexually abusing a child in Wyoming. The allegations are from the 1970’s and weren’t addressed until a lawsuit in 2011, accusations that wouldn’t be flagged in a background check.

The diocese also requires all employees to learn about reporting and recognizing abuse, but child advocacy groups say the church can do more.

“They have to establish policies and practices that really limit one adult with one child. We call that a two-deep leadership. You need to always have at least two adults,” said Angela Liddle, the president and CEO of Pennsylvania Family Support Alliance.

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