The Catholic Church received another round of negative publicity in regards to sexual abuse towards minors, as a grand jury found that hundreds of children were abused over the course of 40 years within the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown in Pennsylvania. Fifty individuals associated with the church were also found to have covered up the incidents. Most disturbing is that the local police also assisted with the cover up. Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane explained, “We have had evidence of law enforcement perhaps looking the other way, law enforcement working with the diocese to let the priests move on, retire or go to a psychiatric facility in lieu of charges.”
The investigation is still active, and charges may be filed against specific individuals. To the church’s credit, Kane noted that Bishop Mark L. Bartchak was instrumental in reporting these crimes, and removing the offending individuals from the church after joining the diocese in 2011. The statue of limitations has expired for most of the crimes, sparking a debate over whether such time limits should be extended. Bishop James J. Hogan and Bishop Joseph V. Adamec were two individuals who were most responsible for the cover ups, but the former passed away while the latter has retired.
Kane emphasized how important it is for victims to report sexual abuse right away in situations like these. She also set up a hotline to report such activities to the authorities at (888) 538-8541. When reported early, this kind of abuse can be stopped much faster, avoiding another ongoing situation where it can carry on for decades.