Over four decades, two Catholic bishops in Pennsylvania covered up the abuse of hundreds of children at the hands of more than 50 religious leaders, according to a grand jury report. A 147-page document notes Joseph Adamec and James Hogan of the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese moved offending priests between parishes, paid off victims, and even threatened them with excommunication, per the Christian Science Monitor. One accused clergyman was moved to a school for boys, per the AP. Hogan, who led the diocese from 1966 to 1986, died in 2005; Adamec, his successor who retired in 2011, refused to testify. The report was compiled using secret diocese documents, including some found in a safe, Pennsylvania AG Kathleen Kane tells the Wall Street Journal. No charges have been laid because the statute of limitations has either run out or the alleged abusers have died.
"These predators desecrated a sacred trust and preyed upon their victims in the very places where they should have felt most safe," Kane says. "Just as troubling is the cover-up perpetrated by clergy leaders that allowed this abuse to continue for decades." The report describes a kind of guide leaders used to determine how much money victims should be offered to keep quiet. Payments to victims of "above clothing, genital fondling" started at $10,000, while victims of "sodomy; intercourse" were paid $50,000 to $175,000, per the report. Adamec's attorney says his client "deeply regrets any harm that has come to children who were victimized," but adds the claims against him are unfounded. "This is a painful and difficult time," adds the current bishop of the diocese, home to 90,000 Catholics. "I urge the faithful to join me in praying for all victims of abuse." (Read more Catholic Church stories.)