Leaders of the Roman Catholic Church in Pennsylvania are being accused of covering up child sexual abuse by more than 300 priest over a period of 70 years.

The New York Times (@NYTimes) reports, the church persuaded victims not to report the abuse. The church also persuaded police not to investigate the accusations.

The startling accusations are part of a report by a grand jury that was made public on Tuesday. The report covers 6 of the 8 Catholic Dioceses in the state. The report found more than 1000 identifiable victims of abuse at the hands of the church.

One of the charges in the report allege that a priest raped a young girl in the hospital as she recovered after having her tonsils removed. Another claim speaks of a priest who was allowed to remain in the ministry after it was discovered he impregnated a 17-year old girl, forged a signature on a marriage certificate, then divorced her.

“Priest were raping little boys and girls, and the men of God who were responsible for them not only did nothing; they hid it all. For decades.” The Grand Jury wrote in the report.

The Grand Jury’s report says church officials were so expectant of claims of the raping of children, that they devised a playbook for when the accusations would inevitably arise: 1) minimize the abuse by using words like “inappropriate contact” instead of “rape.” 2) Assign priests who were untrained in sex abuse cases to investigate the claims made. And 3), if it came down to having to remove an accused priest….don’t inform the community or public of the true reason for the removal.

“They protected their institution at all costs. As the grand jury found, the church showed a complete disdain for victims.” Attorney General, Josh Shapiro said in a news conference.

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