After a two year investigation, Attorney General Kathleen Kane announced that she discovered cases of hundreds of young victims being abused by priests in the Altoona-Johnstown diocese — but cannot bring criminal charges against any of the alleged predators.
The conduct by priests that Kane's office discovered was "monstrous," she said at a Tuesday morning press conference, where she announced that church leadership labored to protect abusive priests from consequences for their actions for years.
Allegations range from anal rape of teenage boys inside the rectory at St. Agnes Church in Lock Haven to a 16-year-old girl in foster care being sexually abused by a priest — and then being blamed for seducing the priest.
"Hundreds of children have fallen victim to child predators wrapped in the authority and the faith of those that they served," Kane said Tuesday. "This abuse lasted for four decades. Not only was it covered up, priests were moved around ... to avoid further scandal."
None of the allegations will lead to criminal charges, Kane said.
"N one of the criminal acts detailed in the grand jury report can be prosecuted," a press release from Kane's office stated. "This is due to the deaths of alleged abusers, deeply traumatized victims being unable to testify in a court of law and the statute of limitations for the crimes being exhausted.
The grand jury report released by Kane's office delves into four decades of abuse allegations within the church, and includes recommendations that the state should abolish the statute of limitations for sexual offenses against minors and suspend the civil statute of limitations on sexual abuse claims.
Kane pinned the blame for the cover-up on former b ishops James Hogan and Joseph Adamec.
The Altoona-Johnstown parish in Central Pennsylvania serves 94,000 Catholics with 89 parishes, 74 priests and 36 permanent deacons. Allegations against the clergy include sexual acts at camp sites, confession, orphanages, foster homes, a cathedral, and range from genital fondling, forced watching/participation in masturbation, performing/receiving oral sex, and anal rape, as well as alcohol and pornography being provided to victims.
The FBI Behavioral Analysis Unit assisted with the investigation, and created a timeline of the abuse allegations that shows a staggering number of victims repeatedly molested by several priests.
Kane pleaded for the legislature to reform the laws so that "these predators could be held accountable until the last day of their lives because these victims live with it every day of their lives."
"Why are we protecting the abusers? Why aren't we protecting the victims?" she asked.