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Redacted report on archdiocese sexual abuse to be released soon

The Maryland Attorney General’s Office on Tuesday received a judge’s preliminary permission to release its redacted report into the history of child sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of Baltimore.

Prior to release, the office will have to eliminate specific reference to 60 individuals and redact the names of 37 others, Baltimore City Circuit Judge Robert Taylor Jr. stated in his four-page memorandum and order.

“We are pleased with the court’s order this afternoon authorizing release of a redacted version of our report on child sexual abuse by clergy in the Archdiocese of Baltimore,” Attorney General Anthony G. Brown said in a statement Tuesday. “We will work to complete the court-ordered redactions and release the report as expeditiously as possible.”

Taylor left open the possibility of the later release of an unredacted report. That would occur after the 37 people are notified and given a “suitable period” to respond. Taylor would then hold a hearing on the attorney general’s request that a final, unredacted version of the report be released.

The redacted report — based largely on grand jury testimony — identifies 158 Catholic priests accused of sexual abuse, including 43 that were never publicly named by the Archdiocese of Baltimore, as part of a four-year investigation into child sexual abuse by members of the clergy. The investigation also identified more than 600 victims of sexual abuse over the past 80 years.

The process of releasing the report has been shrouded in secrecy since Baltimore Circuit Judge Anthony Vittoria ordered late last year that the proceedings would continue under seal. Grand jury proceedings are presumed secret, which is why the Attorney General’s Office had to ask permission to publish its findings.

Taylor took over the case from Vittoria.

The report is based on hundreds of thousands of pages of documents subpoenaed from the archdiocese, interviews with abuse victims and witnesses, and public records.

Former Attorney General Brian E. Frosh launched the probe in 2019, after a similar investigation in Pennsylvania resulted in a nearly 900-page report detailing decades of abuse by more than 300 “predator priests” across the state.

Brown, who took office in January, has continued Frosh’s push to publish the Maryland report.

Lawmakers are currently considering whether to end the state’s statute of limitations for when civil lawsuits can be filed against institutions related to child sexual abuse. Currently, victims of child sex abuse in Maryland can’t sue after they turn 38. Other proposals to do away with the age limit have failed to become law in recent years, but the issue has received renewed attention this session.

Taylor said Maryland legislators should be able to consider the report’s contents during the ongoing state legislative session, which ends April 10.

The judge told prosecutors to entirely redact the names and titles of 37 people from the report before releasing it. The court will then contact those individuals, allow them to review certain sections of the report and finally, consider whether to remove the redactions and release a more complete version in the future. Taylor also told the attorney general to rephrase some pieces of the report to avoid identifying 60 other people.

Another 91 individuals have since died, so their names need not be redacted, Taylor ruled, as well as those identified through a means other than grand jury proceedings. Many accused priests named in the report have been previously publicly identified by the Baltimore Archdiocese.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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