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AG accuses Baltimore Archdiocese of stalling sex abuse investigation

Former attorney general Brian Frosh tells Scripps News the Baltimore church was slow to produce documents in an investigation that took four years.
AG accuses Baltimore Archdiocese of stalling sex abuse investigation
Posted at 10:29 PM, Apr 12, 2023

For the first time since the release of a damning report that found 60 years of sexual abuse and torture inside the Archdiocese of Baltimore, we are hearing from the attorney general who launched the investigation.

Former Attorney General Brian Frosh granted his first interview to Scripps News as part of a one-hour special, airing Wednesday at 8 p.m.

SEE MORE: Sins of the Fathers: Abuse and Betrayal in Baltimore

Frosh pushed back against the Archdiocese's claims that it has been transparent and embraces the report. His investigation took four years to complete, something he attributes to a lack of resources, the enormity of the investigation and the slow process in obtaining documents from the Archdiocese.

"I will tell you that those four years cost me greatly. And there were some very dark times during those four years," said Teresa Lancaster, an abuse survivor.

Church leaders in Baltimore have declared their support for abuse victims and the nearly 500-page report released last week by current Maryland Attorney General Anthony Brown. It alleges at least 156 clergy and others sexually, emotionally and physically abused more than 600 victims.

But survivors say the church is still not telling the full truth.

"These people have, in my opinion, blood on their hands," Lancaster said.

For survivors, the combination of the crimes — and the cover-up — make the report infuriating to read.

"This is very emotional because it is how they deal with it," said Jean Hargadon Wehner, an abuse survivor. "I came to my pastor in 1992 to let them know what I was remembering about two priests, Joseph Maskell and Neil Magnus, and they have insisted all the way through since 1992 that I was the first person to make a complaint of this type about Joseph Maskell, and on page, I believe it's 257, it's a grand jury report that states that they knew of his behavior with children as early as 1966."

Frosh and the four survivors appearing in the special noted extensive redactions in the report, which are at least temporarily shielding the identity of still-living accused priests and officials inside the Archdiocese who participated in the cover up.

"Right under where it says church leaders, all the names are blacked out. These are the people that enabled the abuse," said Lancaster.

Frosh noted the Archdiocese of Baltimore has funded efforts to keep those names redacted. 

Archbishop William Lori declined several invitations to appear in the special and the Archdiocese did not make any other official available.

In a prior statement online, Archbishop Lori said the Archdiocese released the names of abusive priests in the past, though this report included more names.

A spokesperson from the Archdiocese tells Scripps News the names were redacted at the request of the current attorney general and that none of the 10 people whose names were redacted are working in the ministry.

The following statement was sent to Scripps News by the Archdiocese of Baltimore:

The past failures to appropriately respond to allegations of abuse do not reflect the Church’s current and decades-long strong pastoral response and handling of allegations. Information on how the Archdiocese has been responding for the last three decades to stop the abuse of our most vulnerable can be found at archbalt.org.

The Archdiocese cooperated fully with the AG’s Office and the investigation, including by providing hundreds of thousands of pages of requested documents and responding to numerous requests for information in conversations with investigators. In addition, the individuals the archdiocese is paying their legal fees are not accused of abuse and were also not given the ability to respond to the Attorney General during the investigation. The Archdiocese was not attempting to keep the report from being made public.

The report includes redactions of the names of 10 accused abusers. Their names were not redacted at the request of the Archdiocese. The Attorney General requested that their names be redacted, and the court ordered it. None of the 10 individuals is in ministry today in the Archdiocese.

SEE MORE: Bombshell report details child sex abuse in Baltimore Archdiocese


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