Witnesses Await Church Sex Abuse Report With Hope for Change
By MARC LEVY
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — One after another, witnesses beat back fear of revealing details many had kept largely private and recounted to grand jurors their story of sexual abuse by Roman Catholic priests whom they had trusted.
As they spoke, many said they felt compassion from the grand jurors in the sweeping investigation into allegations of child sexual abuse and cover-ups in six of Pennsylvania dioceses. And they felt believed.
Now, many are eagerly anticipating the public release of the grand jury report, which is pending clearance from Pennsylvania’s highest court as justices sort through arguments by current and former clergy named in the document that releasing it would violate their constitutional rights.
“I was scared and probably, in the first few minutes, visibly shaking because it’s big,” said James VanSickle, recalling his experience as a witness. “It’s like, ‘wow, I’ve held this secret for so long and now I’m telling you the details and I want to get this right.’ There’s a lot going through your head.”
Dozens of witnesses testified in the state attorney general’s two-year grand jury investigation that victim advocates expect will produce the largest and most exhaustive clergy sexual abuse report by a U.S. state.
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