Western Pennsylvania’s top federal prosecutor and a Catholic bishop who heads a diocese where investigators say two former bishops helped cover up child-sex abuse by dozens of priests are scheduled to announce a plan to prevent future abuse.
Acting U.S. Attorney Soo Song and Altoona-Johnstown Bishop Mark
Bartchak have called a news conference for Monday afternoon in
They “announced a collaborative framework to protect the children of
the diocese from sexual abuse,” according to a media advisory.
A year ago, Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane released a
147-page report based on secret diocesan records and other evidence that
detailed abuse by more than 50 priests and clergy against hundreds of
The report criticized Bartchak’s predecessors, James Hogan, who
headed the diocese from 1966 to 1986 and died in 2005, and Joseph
Adamec, who succeeded Hogan and retired in 2005.
Adamec cited possible self-incrimination in refusing to testify before the grand jury Kane convened.
Adamec’s attorney argued in court filings that allegations of a
cover-up by the now 81-year-old cleric are unfounded, noting Adamec
suspended or removed nine priests from ministry, and that five others
ordered to undergo psychological counseling never re-offended.
Kane’s report did not accuse Bartchak of wrongdoing, and he had
suspended several priests named as alleged abusers in the report in the
months leading up to its release.
Still, the grand jury said it remains
“concerned the purge of predators is taking too long.”
The clergy sex abuse crisis erupted in 2002, when The Boston Globe
reported that the Boston Archdiocese had transferred child-molesting
priests from parish to parish to protect them.
involving hundreds of offenders and victims have since erupted across
the U.S. and beyond.
Kane’s investigation began when she was asked to review the diocese’s
handling of abuse allegations at Bishop McCort Catholic High School
against an athletic trainer, Franciscan Brother Stephen Baker, who
worked there from 1992 to 2001.
Baker killed himself in 2013 after abuse
settlements with an Ohio diocese where he formerly worked were
Eighty-eight former McCort students settled claims against the diocese for $8 million in 2014.
A molestation suit against since-defrocked priest Francis Luddy that
went to trial in 1994 also exposed many of the problems outlined in the
grand jury report.
The case led to a verdict of more than $2 million in
damages and an appeals court finding that Hogan’s oversight of pedophile
priests had been “outrageous.”