More victims are encouraged to come forward in the wake of the release of a grand jury report detailing clergy child sexual abuse within the Catholic church.
Attorney General Josh Shapiro is sending a message to the public that even after the release of the report that this is still an ongoing investigation. He’s urging victims to call a hotline number and many already have.
Shapiro detailed accounts of more than 1,000 children victimized sexually by predator priests. He says, “The time for institutions to place their own interests above protecting our children is over. I will not tolerate it.”
And, Shapiro says there are more victims out there. Shapiro’s office is asking those affected to call a hotline number to report abuse. That number is 888-538-8541.
In a Facebook post, Shapiro indicated just a day after the report was made public; more than 150 people revealed their stories.
Experts say it’s crucial that now these victims feel they have somewhere to go where they know they’re believed. Paul Lukach, of the Crime Victim Center, says, “There’s opportunities to talk about this at many different levels and to make sure that people are able to be validated and to get these things off of their shoulders.”
Lukach adds that more victims are coming forward and that could help prevent further cases of abuse from occurring in the future.
He says, “Knowing that other people are believed, that these accounts are now finally validated and there’s credible evidence gives people an opportunity then to say ‘yes this happened to me too and I want my perpetrator to be responsible for the actions that they did.'”
Lukach says one factor that makes these cases more complicated is that many of them can’t move forward to trial because of the statute of limitations in Pennsylvania. But, that’s something several lawmakers are working to change, especially now.
Again, if you have been affected by clergy abuse or if you have any information, the Attorney General’s Office is urging you to call the hotline number, again, that is 888-538-8541.