Names of 11 priests accused of child sex abuse will remain secret, court says

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled Monday that the names of 11 priests accused in the grand jury’s scathing report regarding rampant child sex abuse in the church will remain permanently redacted.

As reported by the Philadelphia Enquirer, August’s grand jury report included testimony from more than 1,000 children who alleged abuse at the hands of 301 priests in six state Catholic dioceses over the course of 70 years. Of those 301 priests, 11 were kept anonymous because they denied the allegations.

The state’s Supreme Court found they could remain anonymous, as publicly identifying them could jeopardize their right to due process.

“We acknowledge that this outcome may be unsatisfying to the public and to the victims of the abuse detailed in the report. While we understand and empathize with these perspectives, constitutional rights are of the highest order, and even alleged sexual abusers, or those abetting them, are guaranteed by our Commonwealth’s Constitution the right of due process,” Justice Debra Todd wrote for the majority.

According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, the clergy members argued that they weren’t given a reasonable chance to challenge the 1,358-page report. They also claimed the report stigmatized those who were accused of crimes.

The report was released earlier this year with temporary redactions that will remain in light of the Supreme Court’s 6-1 ruling. Now, Attorney General Josh Shapiro is urging the six dioceses to reveal the names of the 11 priests to their parishioners and the public.

A spokesperson for the Diocese of Harrisburg told CNN that they released the names of accused clergy before the Attorney General’s report. Moreover, the Diocese of Allentown denied taking steps to block the grand jury report or supporting anyone who pushed to do so.

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