Loading...
No BYH to those who have been slamming the US mail, which will presently deliver a document to Alaska or Hawaii for .50...

Report's style condemns as much as its substance

APTOPIX Pennsylvania Dioceses Sex Abuse Investigation

Bishop Ronald Gainer of the Harrisburg Diocese arrives to celebrate mass at the Cathedral Church of Saint Patrick in Harrisburg, Pa., Friday, Aug. 17, 2018. Gainer is among church officials named in a grand jury report on rampant sexual abuse by Roman Catholic clergy.

Loading…

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

By and large, criminal complaints, affidavits and other documents prepared by law enforcement agencies are dry and poorly written.

They’re portentous, heavy on jargon and short on style, with one simple sentence following another monotonously. Even if rich in detail, getting through them can be a slog.

Not so the Pennsylvania grand jury report on sexual abuse of children in the Pittsburgh, Allentown, Erie, Greensburg, Harrisburg and Scranton dioceses. Echoing the format of a report another grand jury produced two years ago about sexual abuse in the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese, the 884-page document released Aug. 14 grabs readers from the very first sentence:

“We, the members of this grand jury, need you to hear this.”

What follows, as much of the nation knows by now, is a comprehensive account of the horrors perpetrated on children by men of the cloth over several decades. The graphic details of the crimes and scope of the church’s cover-ups are appalling.

But shock factor alone does not explain why the public reaction has been so visceral and why the report has resonated so strongly with so many. Presentation does. The report has a conversational, achingly honest tone that lays bare the misery of the victims, the heinousness of the crimes, the hypocrisy of a church that spurned the central tenets of its faith and a statute of limitations that now bars charges against most of the offenders.

“We are sick over all the crimes that will go unpunished and uncompensated,” the grand jury says. “This report is our only recourse. We are going to name their names and describe what they did — both the sex offenders and those who concealed them. We are going to shine a light on their conduct, because that is what the victims deserve. And we are going to make our recommendations for how the laws should change so that maybe no one will have to conduct another inquiry like this one.”

While officially the product of the grand jury, the document was written largely by a team from the criminal division of the state attorney general’s office. Attorney General Josh Shapiro was among the drafters and editors.

The report is free of jargon. It minces no words and pulls no punches, with some criticism leveled at law enforcement officials who failed to pursue allegations of abuse over the years and “left children without their rightful civic watchdogs.”

It personalizes the crimes and connects readers to the victims, introducing 68-year-old Julianne, assaulted when she was 14; Joe, who waited 55 years to tell the grand jury about the “naked, masturbating priest who told him to take off his pants and get into bed"; and Bob, 83, who “can’t bear to be touched by a man, not even to shake hands or to hug his own sons,” because of what happened to him long ago.

During an investigation that spanned two years, the grand jurors reviewed half a million pages of diocesan documents. They were a trove of evidence and a source of nefarious turns of phrase — “circle of secrecy” and “secret archive,” for example — that added heft to the grand jury’s report.

The groundswell of anger the report engendered creates an atmosphere ripe for change. The grand jury’s proposals to expand civil liability and end the statute of limitations for certain sexual offenses can be fodder for informed public discussion largely because the grand jury presented its findings as a compelling narrative in which anger, sadness and passion for change leap from the pages.

After reading it, the public cannot help but feel as the grand jurors did.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Loading…

Humans of Greenville

@HumansofGville

Local photographer Joe Pellegrino explores Greenville to create a photographic census of its people.

Editorials

September 24, 2018

We have seen the worst of nature and the best of mankind. We have seen actions that make “rising to the occasion” a breathtaking understatement. And we have seen the terrible power of an intense storm unleashed across our own region and more than half of our state. There may not be…

Tropical Weather Florence North Carolina-6

September 21, 2018

Senate Republicans found themselves politically cornered Monday as they considered what to do about the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh. That nomination is suddenly in jeopardy thanks to a credible accusation from a California woman, Christine Blasey Ford, that Kavanaugh sexually…

Supreme Court Kavanaugh Politics

September 20, 2018

Earlier this summer, Robert Runcie, the superintendent of schools in Broward County, Florida, sent a back-to-school message to the "families and community" of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

His missive mentioned nothing about teachers or books or curriculum. Instead it went on for four pages…

Florida School Shooting 911 Calls-5

September 19, 2018

Hurricane Florence has lingered over North Carolina. The storm’s initial rain, high winds and storm surge-flooding has been followed by even more rain, swollen creeks and rivers along with impassable roads from interstates to neighborhood drives.

Cities like Wilmington — not merely…

Tropical Weather North Carolina-4

September 18, 2018

"The youth use of e-cigs is rising very sharply," Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said Wednesday, as he issued the federal government's most forceful warning yet that these electronic nicotine-delivery devices are hooking a generation of teenagers. He promised that…

Flavored Vaping Sales Ban

September 17, 2018

America shouldn’t be in the coup business. Period.

It’s a relief, then, to learn that the Trump administration chose not to aid rebellious leaders in Venezuela seeking to overthrow President Nicolás Maduro. But it’s worrisome to think that President Trump and his advisers…

Venezuela Nicolas Maduro

September 14, 2018

Over the past few decades, there has been a proliferation of criminal statutes and regulations carrying criminal penalties at the federal level. As Congress debates criminal justice reform, mens rea reform should be on the table.

For years, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, has introduced and called for…

Trump Finance-3

September 13, 2018

It is tremendously sad and horrific to think about the forthcoming disaster and what it could bring to our communities and our neighbors to the south. We did nothing, really, other than live like we always have, to bring this on ourselves. Nevertheless, it is here.

Hurricane Florence, a major storm…

091218Sandbagging-4.jpg

September 12, 2018

You can add the name Jordan McNair to the list of college, high school and middle school players who might have needlessly died for the love of football.

A simple, well-known procedure — immersing McNair, 19, in a tub of ice water — when he collapsed at an off-season University of…

082918ECUFootball-5.jpg

September 11, 2018

By now, few might lift an eyebrow at President Trump’s crusade to delegitimize his own Justice Department and, specifically, his attorney general, Jeff Sessions. It long ago became clear that Trump regards federal law enforcement — as he sees all of government — as a political…

Trump Sessions
101 stories in Editorials. Viewing 1 through 10.
«First Page   «Previous Page        
Page 1 of 11
        Next Page»   Last Page»