The Catholic Church Sex Abuse Scandal Is Spreading to Maryland

After a report from a Pennsylvania grand jury detailed the sexual abuse of over 1,000 children spanning seven decades, other states’ attorneys general have launched their own investigations to uncover similar abuses around the U.S.

Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh hinted that one such investigation might be underway here, too. Though Frosh hasn’t directly addressed the existence of an investigation, the attorney general’s website displays a message to victims of abuse in Maryland churches and schools encouraging them to come forward with information.

Governor Larry Hogan has expressed a willingness for an investigation like the one in Pennsylvania, which exposed more than 300 so-called predator priests for the abuses they committed upon young people. The process in Maryland would vary somewhat from Pennsylvania’s because Frosh would be required to coordinate his efforts with a local state’s attorney’s office.

Frosh has faced pressure from victims and their advocates to be more aggressive in his investigations of child sex abuse in the Catholic Church. A spokesman of Frosh’s challenger in the recent general election alleged that the attorney general’s office has failed to respond to inquiries from advocates.

While the status of a mass investigation in Maryland remains unclear, concerns about abuse appear to be gaining momentum.

Maryland, Too, Has a Troubling History of Child Sex Abuse Scandals

In 1995, a former teacher at Catholic Community Middle School in Locust Point was convicted of rape and child sex abuse of a student in the 1970s. In 2002 through 2005, several dioceses faced accusations of sexual abuse in churches and in schools, some of which resulted in settlements to victims.

In 2017, a Netflix documentary series explored the murder of a nun in 1969 and the possible link to sexual abuse allegations at Baltimore’s Archbishop Keough High School throughout the 1960s and 1970s.

The Pennsylvania grand jury report also had links to Maryland. Cardinal William H. Keeler of Baltimore was among the leaders named in the report who failed to take proper action against accused abusers.

It’s Time for Victims to Get Justice

There are many common themes in reports of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church. Many clergy members, often at the highest levels of the Church hierarchy, cover up the abuse and shield the accused from the consequences of alleged crimes. In some cases, the accused are simply relocated or stripped of their priesthood and are never forced to reckon with their actions.

While we hope that the momentum from Pennsylvania’s grand jury report gives life to investigations in Maryland, we also believe that victims shouldn’t be forced to wait for officials to do the right thing.

Victims have a legal right to speak out against their abusers and seek compensation for their suffering. By taking legal action against sexual abusers, victims can help prevent further abuses, hold accountable those responsible for enabling these practices and seek financial restitution for the acts committed against them.

If you or a loved one has experienced abuse at churches or schools in Baltimore, we encourage you to consider your legal options. Contact Steven H. Heisler to schedule a free consultation with our legal team to learn more.