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Shapiro to Take Legal Action to Make Catholic Church Sex Abuse Grand Jury Report Public

Friday, June 29, 2018 @ 10:06 AM

Posted by Aly Delp

child-abuesHARRISBURG, Pa. — The Office of Attorney General Josh Shapiro has announced that it will take legal action on Monday to make the grand jury report on child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church in Pennsylvania known to the public.

In an opinion issued earlier this week by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, the Court invited the Office of Attorney General to “lodge an objection to a continued stay” of the report’s release. The Office of Attorney General is responding to that invitation from the Court.

“There are legal filings the Court must decide. In acting on Monday, we are hopeful the Court will expeditiously decide these issues and lift the stay. The people of Pennsylvania have a right to see the report, know who is attempting to block its release and why, and to hear the voices of the victims of sexual abuse within the Church,” Attorney General Shapiro said.

On the afternoon of Wednesday, June 20, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania accepted legal challenges to the issuing of a grand jury report detailing widespread sexual abuse within the Catholic Church.

“In an unsealed order, the Supreme Court has issued a stay of proceedings to review and decide those challenges,” Attorney General Josh Shapiro said. “My legal team and I will continue fighting tirelessly to make sure the victims of this abuse are able to tell their stories and the findings of this investigation are made public to the people of Pennsylvania.”

According to legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com, a stay is “The act of temporarily stopping a judicial proceeding through the order of a court.”

At least three priests and one layman with local connections were among those listed by the Catholic Diocese of Erie when it released the names of 51 people who were “credibly accused” of sexual misconduct in April.

Bishop Lawrence Persico of the Catholic Diocese of Erie said the persons on the list “have been credibly accused of actions ranging from furnishing pornography to minors to direct, sexual assault of minors.”

Locally, Fr. Joseph F. Meisinger, Fr. Donald J. Cooper, and William Garvey – all of who are now deceased – are among those accused.

Meisinger served in Clarion from 1956 to 1972 while Cooper spent time from 1963 to 1984 at various area churches in New Bethlehem, DuBois, Reynoldsville, and Titusville.

William Garvey, an Oil City native who passed away in 2017, was a high school teacher and basketball coach at the Catholic Church. He joined the faculty of Mercyhurst in 1962 and later became dean of the college, vice president of academic affairs and was elected president in 1980. In 2008, he founded the Jefferson Educational Society of Erie.

Additionally, the Rev. David Poulson – an Oil City native who most recently had been a pastor in Cambridge Springs and previously served at St. Michael parish in Fryburg between the late 1990s and 2013 – recently waived his preliminary hearing on charges that he sexually abused two young boys over a period of many years. Poulson was not on the Attorney General’s list of those accused; however, accusations came to light after one of the victims revealed the alleged abuse to a military chaplain in Fort Hood, Texas.

The complete list, which made headlines before it was even released, includes 34 priests — 20 of whom are deceased — as well as 17 laymen, two of whom are deceased.

RELATED STORIES

Former Fryburg Priest Accused of Sexually Abusing Two Boys Waives Preliminary Hearing

Catholic Church Leaders Deny Cover-Up in Father Poulson Child Sex Abuse Case

Meisinger, Cooper Among Priests Named As Abuse Scandal Rocks the Catholic Church


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