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Maryland attorney general releases report on decades of sex abuse by Catholic priests

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

In 2002, Roman Catholic bishops promised zero tolerance for sexual abuse of children by priests. Here we are, more than 20 years later, and investigators are still finding additional allegations of abuse. Yesterday, the Maryland attorney general released new findings of a pervasive history of sex abuse in the Archdiocese of Baltimore. This story is about two minutes long, and we'll mention that some people may find the content disturbing. Scott Maucione of WYPR reports.

SCOTT MAUCIONE, BYLINE: Survivors of sexual abuse are experiencing a bittersweet moment. While some feel vindicated, others are angry that more abusers weren't named. Maryland Attorney General Anthony Brown says the facts are clear.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ANTHONY BROWN: The incontrovertible history uncovered by this investigation is one of pervasive, pernicious and persistent abuse by priests and other archdiocese personnel. It's also a history of repeated cover-up of that abuse.

MAUCIONE: The report details clergy raping children, forcing them to play Russian roulette and choking them with ropes. The investigation found more than 600 children were abused by nearly 160 priests in the Baltimore Archdiocese over the last 80 years. Jean Hargadon-Wehner is one of the abuse survivors.

JEAN HARGADON-WEHNER: I'm feeling very, very sad because who in the hell would want to be excited about this horrible stuff that's going to be in these papers?

MAUCIONE: In a letter addressing the report, Baltimore Archbishop William Lori calls the findings soul-searing, and he personally apologized to the survivors, saying the church continues to improve its accountability. However, nearly 100 names of currently living clergy were redacted until the alleged abusers have a chance to review the report and respond to it. That's not good enough for David Lorenz with the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests.

DAVID LORENZ: There's a lot of church leadership involved in this cover-up, and we still don't know.

MAUCIONE: Maryland's attorney general is now working to release the names omitted from the report.

For NPR News, I'm Scott Maucione in Baltimore. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Scott Maucione