A nearly 500-page report released Wednesday by the Maryland Attorney General’s Office names 146 priests, deacons, monsignors, laypersons, brothers, and one sister who physically and/or sexually abused children in their care.
The Report on Child Sexual Abuse in the Archdiocese of Baltimore also includes 10 people whose names were redacted on orders of the Circuit Court for Baltimore City because they “had not previously been listed as credibly accused by the Archdiocese of Baltimore or otherwise publicly identified.”
More than 600 children are known to have been abused, molested, or raped over the span of the sixty-year period covered in the report, according to Maryland Attorney General Anthony Brown.
“This Report illustrates the depraved, systemic failure of the Archdiocese to protect the most vulnerable – the children it was charged to keep safe,” Brown said in a statement.
Deacon Leo O’Hara of Baltimore admitted to molesting more than 100 children. Father John Joseph Mike, who served in parishes in Timonium, Baltimore, Halethorpe, and Clarksville, would chain and whip boys for his own gratification, according to the report.
Some parishes had multiple abusers, like St. Mark’s Parish in Catonsville, which had 11 child abusers living and working there between the years 1964 and 2004.
The probe began with then-Attorney General Brian Frosh, and continued when Attorney General Anthony Brown took office in 2023.
The authors of the report called the abuse “astonishing,” and lay blame for its widespread continuance and cover-up squarely on the Catholic Church’s hierarchy.
“The staggering pervasiveness of the abuse itself underscores the culpability of the Church hierarchy,” they wrote.
Abusers and rapists within the church were often known to the diocese, according to the report, but they were either sent for “treatment” and returned to different parishes, or were simply left at their posts if they exerted enough power to keep others around them quiet.
The report outlines, for example, how in 1958 Father Gerald Tragesser was prosecuted for sexually abusing a 13-year-old girl. But Archbishop Francis Keough resolved the case in private with a Chief Judge of the Circuit Court for Baltimore County.
Keough told the judge that Tragesser would be sent away for “treatment” and barred from returning to Maryland. But when the victim’s mother threatened to publicize the case, Keough used the “happy influence of a highly placed newspaper man” to keep the story out of the press.
“Time and again, the Archdiocese chose to safeguard the institution and avoid
scandal instead of protecting the children in its care,” Brown said. “This Report shines a light on this overwhelming tragedy, and it was the courage of the survivors that made it possible.”
David Lorenz, Maryland director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, told WYPR that “the reports are a way for victims to grieve and to hold the Church accountable.”
“It’s a growing body of evidence for a national scourge,” Lorenz said. “This Catholic Church has a habit of underreporting the number of priests and are not changing the way they do their work.”
Baltimore’s archbishop, the Most Rev. William E. Lori, told the Baltimore Sun that the “enormous” history of abuse outlined in the report has brought “shock” and “horror” for the Catholic community.
Reaction around the internet was one hardly of shock, but plenty of horror.
As members of the LGBTQ+ community and drag performers are falsely accused of being pedophiles and groomers, many Twitter users pointed out the extensive abuse within the Catholic church as outlined by the Maryland report.