Stepping up the pressure to release a report on decades of sexual abuse of children in the Baltimore Archdiocese, a group of survivors intervened Wednesday in the legal case that so far has kept the findings of the Maryland Attorney General’s four-year investigation secret.
Lawyers representing the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, and other victims and advocates said the group hand-delivered a motion to Baltimore Circuit Judge Anthony Vittoria on Wednesday supporting the release of the Attorney General’s 456-page report. They said they were not able to file the motion to the clerk of Baltimore City Circuit Court because the judge in the case has ordered all proceedings be kept confidential.
The sealing came after an anonymous group of people named in the report but who were not accused of abuse requested all court proceedings in the matter be made secret. The group’s legal representation is being paid for, at least in part, by the Archdiocese.
Survivors say the secrecy has prevented the church from taking full responsibility for the abuse, and has further traumatized the victims who — at great psychological costs — were interviewed by the Attorney General’s Office as part of its investigation.
“Imagine your deepest, darkest, most intimate secrets,” said David Lorenz, SNAP’s Maryland director, “and then having to go tell that to a stranger.”
“And you’re believing maybe, maybe the Attorney General will bring some justice, but you wait four long years,” he said. “Then suddenly and inexplicably, that same institution that enabled the priests attempts to stop the release of that report.”
Archbishop William Lori has said the church does not oppose the report’s release, but the diocese also has “pledged to support the rights” of people named in the report but who are not accused of abuse and who were not given the opportunity to respond to the attorney general’s investigation.
Victims and their advocates have responded by saying that’s tantamount to opposing the report’s release.
The Attorney General’s Office filed a motion last month seeking to release the report, which it said details the abuse of more than 600 people over the past 80 years, needing its permission because of its reliance on grand jury materials, which are usually kept secret.
Lorenz and other survivors and advocates are represented by Jenner Law of Baltimore and Grant & Eisenhofer, which held a news conference Wednesday to announce their attempt to intervene in support of the Attorney General’s efforts to release its findings.
Robert K. Jenner said after the conference that his clients also are requesting that that report be sent to a grand jury for further action.
“Indictments, actions, convictions, punishment,” Jenner said. “There has to be a purpose to the report, so we’re not writing a report for the report’s sake. The question has to be, now what?”
The Morning Sun
A week ago, three women who had been victimized as students at Archbishop Keough High School and who were featured in a 2017 Netflix documentary, “The Keepers,” also filed a motion seeking the report’s release.
Others involved in “The Keepers” case have joined in the motion by Jenner and Grant & Eisenhofer, filing a separate intervention not because of any differences but because they opted for different lawyers.
“We’re all on the same team,” said Gemma Hoskins, a Keough alum who helped investigate the abuse that took place there in the 1960s and ’70s.
“We believe that the more voices, the more strength,” said Barbara Hart, a New York-based attorney with Grant & Eisenhofer.
At Wednesday’s news conference, Hoskins took the opportunity to speak directly to Lori.
“You could have been a hero by exposing all the wrongdoings by clergy pedophiles who were assigned to the Archdiocese of Baltimore,” she said. “But instead you turned away. You chose to fall silent and you chose to protect your criminals.
“But the mighty army that is represented here today is relentless,” she said. “We will not go away, sit down or shut up. And most of us believe sir, that you must resign.”
The article has been updated to clarify that Baltimore Circuit Judge Tony Vittoria's decision came after an anonymous group of people named in the report but who were not accused of abuse requested all court proceedings in the matter be made secret.