Last week, the Archdiocese of Baltimore faced Catholics, the community, and the nation at large after being forced to admit what survivors have known for decades: Details about how more than 150 Archdiocese priests sexually abused over 600 children over the past 50 years.
The Maryland Attorney General’s report, released last week, is more than 460 pages long. It is a searing, gut-wrenching, and tragic account of abuse and cover-up. The second half of the report is dedicated to detailed accounts of each particular priest’s career and the children who were harmed.
While we applaud the Attorney General and the report for its in-depth and thorough accounting, we cannot help but to be disappointed and express our fear about many of the redactions. The report opens with a list of clergy accused of child sexual abuse. Unfortunately, ten abusers’ names are redacted. According to the report:
“The names of the abusers described after this point were redacted in the April 2023 interim public release of this Report by order of the Circuit Court for Baltimore City, because they were not known to be deceased at the time of the Report and had not previously been listed as credibly accused by the Archdiocese of Baltimore or otherwise publicly identified. They are listed out of alphabetical order in order to maintain the efficacy of the redactions.” (Table of Contents, page vi)
This means that there are likely 10 living men who are accused of abuse. We do not know who they are, where they are living, and whether they are currently working with or have access to children…and the report does not tell us.
In addition, names of Archdiocesan officials who knew about child sexual abuse, and covered it up, are also removed from the public report. In other AG investigations—such as that in Pennsylvania—the naming of the men and women who covered up abuse showed how powerful men, such as former Washington D.C. Cardinal Donald Wuerl, actively protected predators and put children in danger of sexual assault.
Because of the redactions in the Maryland report, we will likely never know who those officials are, if they are still protecting predators, or if they have been rewarded for putting the reputation of the church over child safety.
On April 6, 2023, the Maryland House of Delegates and the Maryland Senate officially passed the Senate Bill 686, also known as the Child Victims Act of 2023. On Tuesday, April 11, 2023, Governor Wes Moore officially signed Senate Bill 686 into law. This legislation takes effect on October 1, 2023, and eliminates the statute of limitations in Maryland for survivors of child sexual abuse, no matter when the abuse occurred. We applaud Governor Moore’s decision in siding with victims of abuse.