When most residents in Pennsylvania think about a person accused of a criminal offense may have a stereotype in their mind about that person. The profile is not often likely to involve someone considered responsible or in a position of power. The thought that a religious figure be charged with a crime may be even further from their minds. That, however, may well change soon.
As reported by WHYY.org, the recently released grand jury report on child sexual abuse within the Catholic Church may be the beginning of the clock timing for a statute of limitations to bring criminal charges against priests or other members of the church. There is a period of two years during which such charges may be initiated. This two-year period starts with the date that the information was first communicated to the public.
The ability to criminally charge a priest or other clergy member for sexual abuse even if they did not themselves allegedly perpetrate such actions is possible due to a ruling by the State Supreme Court after the 2012 conviction of a monseigneur for his supposed involvement in covering up such abuse. While the high court overturned the man’s conviction for a charge of child endangerment, it upheld the District Attorney’s right to hold others accountable for allegations of cover ups related to sexual abuse within the church.
The grand jury report names not only an estimated 300 individuals alleged to have abused children but roughly another 100 persons of covering up the abuse or allowing priests to have access to children knowing that such abuse may be taking place.