Under a gray sky that threatened rain on Friday morning, survivors of sexual abuse at the hands of the Catholic Church gathered in downtown Baltimore, outside the archdiocese’s Cathedral Street building. There, they promised a fight ahead — one that has already brought together people whose experiences of cruelty and violation extend far beyond the city’s borders.
“We’re here now and we’re not going anywhere,” said Frank Schindler, a Maryland resident who says he was abused by a priest in New York at the age of five.
Two days after the Attorney General’s release of a report that details nearly a century of sexual abuse perpetrated by clergy and church officials acting within Baltimore’s archdiocese, members of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, issued a set of demands for more transparency.
David Lorenz, who heads the Maryland branch of SNAP, called for the Archdiocese of Baltimore to publish the name of every perpetrator of abuse from the Attorney General’s report, including those who are currently redacted, to its own list of those who have been credibly accused, which currently only accounts for priests and brothers.
He insisted the archdiocese publish complete work and assignment histories for all abusers named in the report, including their last known locations and any indication of whether they are alive or deceased; refrain from challenging the Child Victims Act, expected to be signed into law in Maryland soon; and increase public outreach by hosting Q+A sessions.
“They are still being secretive about publishing the names and the whereabouts of all the priests that are on that list,” Lorenz said.
He also made requests of the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C. and the Diocese of Wilmington, Delaware, which extend into the suburbs of Washington and the Eastern Shore, respectively, to publicly release information they’ve furnished to Maryland’s Attorney General. On Wednesday, Attorney General Anthony Brown said his office had issued subpoenas to both dioceses, and that investigations were “ongoing.”
Washington’s archdiocese responded to a request for comment Friday with a statement issued Wednesday, after the release of the report.
“We recognize that past acts of abuse that occurred within the Church continue to cause severe pain and suffering for survivors, their families, and the faithful,” it reads. “Consistent with our published policies, we will continue to cooperate with civil authorities in investigating all allegations of abuse. We remain fully committed to our ongoing efforts, which span decades, to keep children safe and to bring healing to those harmed.”
The Baltimore and Wilmington dioceses did not immediately respond to requests for comment about Friday’s SNAP request.
Clergy members can be — and have been — reassigned across the country, creating trails of abuse that extend far and wide, survivors noted Friday. “A diocese is nothing but arbitrary lines on a map,” Schindler said.
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The report also revealed that those acting within the diocese had incredible sway over other systems of power. “[The Diocese] had control of the media; they had control of editors; they had control of the judicial system; they had judges making sure cases get through,” Lorenz said.
Some survivors felt the church’s influence — and said that it silenced them. Brendan Dell, who says he was raped by Father Gerard Bugge in Anne Arundel County, as detailed on pages 86 and 87 of the report, recalled being told by Bugge that he would “go to hell” if he told anyone of the assault.
“Under that threat, I kept my mouth shut,” he said on Friday.
Teresa Lancaster, who’s story of abuse at Baltimore’s Archbishop Keough High School became the subject of Netflix’s 2017 series, “The Keepers,” suspects there are many more who still have yet to come forward.
“This is the tip of the iceberg,” she said. “For every one victim that comes forward, you can count at least 10 that do not.”
For Mary Corzine, who says she was abused in Montgomery County and whose alleged abuser, Timothy Slevin, appears on a list of credibly accused clergy associated with the Archdiocese of Washington, reading the report brought challenging memories back to the surface.
But it has also emboldened those calling for change. “We Marylanders stand together,” Corzine said. “We will continue to fight for justice for all survivors in the state of Maryland, no matter the archdiocese.”