‘Keepers’ investigator: Md. clergy abuse report leaves important questions unanswered | READER COMMENTARY

Let’s not beat around the bush: What’s not in the Maryland Attorney General Office’s report on clergy abuse may be more alarming than what is (“Read the Catholic Church sexual abuse report from the Maryland Attorney General,” April 5).

As we pore over this pornographic film on paper, we’re left with more questions than answers. We learned in November from the church that many clergy were “prosecuted” and/or “credibly accused.” Do we have any idea how many were prosecuted? My guess is very few.


When a priest is credibly accused, the church has several options:

  1. Do nothing, which has been the typical response as illustrated in the report.
  2. Remove the priest’s faculties (privileges), to perform sacraments (Do you think a pedophile priest really cares about performing sacraments? Only if it gives him access to kids.)
  3. Laicize the priest; the reigning pope un-priests the priest.
  4. Report to law enforcement; the priest might be arrested, charged, indicted, prosecuted, convicted and incarcerated.

When law enforcement defers to the wishes of the archdiocese, the claim is settled out of court and the priest gets “treatment.” There are 11 treatment centers that I know of around the U.S. for pedophile priests. They are all funded by the Catholic Church. They do not work. Pedophilia cannot be cured. The solution is to remove abusers from society. It would be more productive to put bars on those treatment centers and incarcerate the individuals there.


The church feels powerful when it invokes Options 2 or 3. Appearing to solve the problem, these take the onus off the church and places it on us. Abusers then live in retirement communities on the church’s dime as unregistered sex offenders. Who takes their kids to see their Nana and Pop at a senior campus? Do you walk down the hall to visit the nice retired priest who lives there, too? He’ll give your children his blessing.

On a podcast I took part in a few years ago, we asked Sean Caine, a former Archdiocese of Baltimore (AOB) spokesperson, how the archdiocese keeps track of the laicized priests and those who have been removed from parishes. His response: “We don’t. Home Depot doesn’t keep track of its fired employees. We don’t either.” Caine retired shortly after.

Life is better for the laicized pedophile. They can move freely around the world, no longer hampered by a long black dress and mandarin collar.

The bottom line is that the removal of a priest from the priesthood does NOT equal elimination of abuse. That is the most insane equation ever invented.

What else is missing from the report? Much.

  • What did Attorney Gregg Bernstein and others representing an anonymous group arrange to have redacted or removed from the report?
  • Six hundred victims reported abuse, giving names of teachers, nurses, drivers, attorneys, nuns, day care providers, police officers, high-ranking politicians, business owners, soldiers, secretaries and ex-convicts as participants, enablers, enforcers. For four years, I facilitated communication for many survivors with the attorney general’s investigator, Richard Wolf. Survivors talked for hours. Wolf documented it all. They gave names of others involved in their abuse or in covering it up. They are alive. They are guilty. They are cowards. Are we going to demand that they be named?
  • Why hasn’t anybody asked about the Jesuit intern at Keough mentioned in the report? He is alleged to have sexually abused two teens at the school.
  • What about the involvement of police in the abuse? Survivors have given names to the police. Does the thin blue line become armor when the church is in charge?
  • Who in 1967 killed Irene Heretick, the librarian at the Seton Psychiatric Institute, where some abusers were sent?
  • Where are the consequences? There are legal reasons why some perpetrators cannot be charged. “Back in the day” the abuse was considered a misdemeanor.

This is bigger than a story of abuse. Its tentacles are far-reaching. We need the truth. We need somebody to care. We need a lot of somebodies. We can’t let religious, political, financial or covert allegiances direct this journey. What are we gonna do?

Gemma Hoskins

The writer was a 1970 graduate of the Archbishop Keough High School. An investigation she conducted with another classmate into the cold case death of their high school English teacher, Catherine Cesnik, became the basis for the 2017 Netflix documentary “The Keepers,” which focused on sexual abuse allegations at Archbishop Keough in the 1960s and ‘70s and the unsolved killing of Cesnik in 1969.