Survivors of child sexual abuse at the hands of priests and others in the Roman Catholic church finally had their voices heard Tuesday when the state attorney general’s office released the findings of a two-year grand jury investigation into six Pennsylvania dioceses.
The grand jury report says church records show more than 1,000 children were abused, but the real number is likely in the thousands because some victims were afraid to come forward and some records were lost.
“Releasing the names is just a start,” Sean Dougherty said. “Some of my friends and survivors struggle to brush their teeth and put on their pants. There has to be punishment.”
Juliann Bortz was abused decades ago. She says the healing takes place every day, but the journey continues.
“Being a Catholic is in my DNA, but it killed something in me,” she said.
“We are reaching out to all victims, so if you have been abused or know of someone who was abused, we are here to support you,” Jim Vansickle said.
Attorney General Josh Shapiro says the victims can only move forward when those responsible, living or dead, are held accountable.
The grand jury called on the state Legislature to abolish prosecution time limits in sexual abuse cases. Current law permits victims to come forward until age 50, but many of the victims who came forward were in their 50’s, 60’s, 70’s. One was 83 years old.
“This is the murder of the soul,” James Faluszozak said.”There is no statute of limitations on a murder. We don’t go after victims and their families and repressed memories. This was soul murder.”