Pa. Supreme Court orders release of redacted grand jury report

Pennsylvania state capitol building Credit Jeff Zehnder Shutterstock CNA The Pennsylvania state capitol. | Jeff Zehnder/Shutterstock.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Friday ordered that a redacted version of a grand jury report detailing sex abuse in six of the state's eight Catholic dioceses be released next month.

News outlets, victims, and the state attorney general have pressed for the release of the report.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court had stayed the release of the report June 20, after numerous individuals named in the report objected to its release, citing concerns of due process and reputational rights guaranteed by the state constitution.

Lawyers for the media outlets requesting the report's release have said a redacted version could be released to respond to those concerns, while the court considers challenges to the full report's release.

The court's July 27 order effectively adopted that suggestion.

"The Commonwealth is directed to prepare a redacted version of Report 1, which removes specific and contextual references to any petitioner who has an appellate challenge pending before this Court," read the opinion of the supreme court.

Petitioners who have appeals pending with the court can appeal over the redactions by Aug. 7. If no challenges are made, the interim report and responses are to be publicly released by Aug. 8; but if challenges are made, the public release of the redacted report can be delayed until Aug. 14.

The supreme court wrote that the grand jury had undertaken "the salutary task of exposing alleged child sexual abuse and concealment of such abuse, on an extraordinarily large scale, which the grand jurors have pronounced was perpetrated by trusted members of a religious institution."

"Thus, the grand jury submitted a report for publication specifically finding that more than 300 people, identified by name, committed criminal and/or morally reprehensible conduct," the supreme court wrote.

"Ideally, living persons so identified would have been afforded the opportunity to appear before the grand jury and to respond, in some reasonable fashion, to the grand jury's concerns. For those among the present challengers who were denied such opportunity, and who otherwise have submitted proper appeals seeking the remedy of a pre-deprivation hearing, we hold that they are entitled to this Court's further consideration of whether additional process can and should now be provided as a curative measure."

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