Sex-abuse victim asks Supreme Court to release grand jury report
A survivor of childhood sex abuse by a member of the clergy wants the Pennsylvania AG’s report to be released.
One alleged victim of childhood sexual abuse by a Harrisburg diocese Catholic priest has joined the legal fight to compel the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to allow the release the attorney general’s new grand jury report documenting sex abuse in the Catholic Church statewide. Todd Frey, now 49, who says he was victimized by a Harrisburg diocese priest, recently submitted a legal filing asking the Supreme Court to unseal the AG's report, which was blocked at the last minute due to a filing by unidentified individuals and groups who say the report would defame them.
Frey says he testified before the grand jury, which after two years recently completed its 800-page report, about the abuse he endured from the age of 13 to around age 16 at the hands of defrocked priest Guy Marsico, who was assigned to St. Leo the Great Catholic Church in Rohrerstown, Lancaster County, where Frey attended Catholic school.
Frey “believes he and others have a right to see the more than 800-page report,” said a news release from Kline & Specter, PC, which represented Frey in his July 6 filing urging the Supreme Court to unseal the report.
“Mr. Frey is one of many victims whose voice must be heard in opposition to those who seek to keep this grand jury report secret,” said attorney Tom Kline, who is representing Frey along with partners David Inscho and Charles Becker. “We hope that the court will act quickly to release the entire report.”
Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro is actively fighting for the report’s release, currently preparing "an objection to a continued stay" of the report's release. Nine news organizations including Philadelphia Media Network (which owns the Inquirer and Daily News) and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette have also submitted filings seeking the report’s release. Some 26 anonymous individuals, reported to be a group of former priests, asked the court to keep the report sealed, claiming they had a constitutional right to challenge parts of the report in court. (It is unknown if Marsico, who was defrocked not long after Frey came forward and now reportedly works as a realtor in Central Pennsylvania, is part of the group opposing the report’s release.)
At this point, none of Pennsylvania’s archdioceses oppose the release of the report. A spokesman for the Harrisburg diocese acknowledged to the Inquirer that Marsico was a "child predator" but declined to comment on Frey's other claims. The report does not involve the Philadelphia or Altoona-Johnstown archdioceses, which were the subjects of previous grand jury investigations, but investigated sex-abuse allegations at the state’s six other archdioceses.
“Victims of this sexual abuse deserve the right to tell their stories to the people of Pennsylvania. That is why my legal team and I have worked tirelessly to have each diocese agree to give victims the opportunity to be heard,” AG Shapiro said in a previous statement on the report. “We are hopeful the Court will expeditiously decide these issues and lift the stay. The people of Pennsylvania have a right to see the report, know who is attempting to block its release and why, and to hear the voices of the victims of sexual abuse within the Church.”
In his court filing, Frey quoted Pope Francis’ statement on the ongoing scandal during the 2015 World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, “I continue to be ashamed that persons charged with the tender care of those little ones abused them and caused them grave harm. I deeply regret this. God weeps. The crimes and sins of sexual abuse of minors may no longer be kept secret.”