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“We conclude that we may not employ any of the remedies offered by the parties, and, thus, that we must
make permanent the redaction of Petitioners’ identifying information” and with that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court rejected Attorney General’s demand to release the names of alleged child predators in the 40th Investigating Grand Jury Report.
The court noted in it’s opinion said, “Despite our Court’s request, neither party has directly addressed the extent and source of our Court’s authority to fashion a judicial remedy in this situation.
The court also said in its decision, “However, Petitioners (people wanting the report not to be released) also aver (swear or say in legalese) that they have been irrevocably tainted by public statements of the Attorney General regarding their pursuit of this litigation. Petitioners specifically reference the following public pronouncements of the Attorney General: (1)
his letter to Pope Francis asking for his intervention to “direct church leaders to follow the path you charted at the Seminary in 2015 and abandon their destructive efforts to silence the survivors,” (2) statements made at a press conference in which the Attorney General: described Petitioners as having “concealed their identities through sealed court filings;” accused them of seeking to “bury the sexual abuse by priests upon children, and cover it up forever;” observed that, while the redactions are representative of only “a very small fraction of the predator priests named by this grand jury, no story of abuse is any less important than another;” and (3) the fact that when asked to comment about Petitioners’ claims of inaccuracies in the report, the Attorney General answered by stating that, in evaluating these claims, the sources should be considered, i.e., “who they
are and . . . their backgrounds.”
Encapsulating, the people the Attorney General named as predators in public have not avenue to challenge Shapiro’s from the public comments made by Shapiro.
In concluding the court said “We recognize and appreciate the importance of the grand jury’s efforts. Nevertheless, as the highest Court in this Commonwealth, it is our obligation to guard against constitutional infringements. Because Petitioners’ most fundamental individual constitutional rights have been imperiled, we are compelled to take these curative measures in order to fulfill our Court’s duty to protect those rights.”
The Attorney General released this statement following the decision saying in the following statement:
I have consistently fought for the release of the entire, unredacted Grand Jury report into widespread sexual abuse and cover up within the Pennsylvania Catholic Church. Today’s state Supreme Court Order allows some predator priests to remain in the shadows and permits the Church to continue concealing their identities.
I will continue to stand with all survivors, fighting to ensure every victim gets their day in court and that every predator priest and every bishop and church official who enabled child abuse is held accountable for their abhorrent conduct.
The public will not relent in its demand that anyone involved in this widespread abuse and cover up be named. No one victim’s truth is any less important than another and no one’s criminal conduct any less loathsome.
While this Order bars me from releasing the names of these 11 petitioners, nothing in this Order prevents the Dioceses from sharing the shielded names with their parishioners and the public. I call on the Bishops to do so immediately, consistent with their recent calls for transparency.