PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Tonight, Cardinal Justin Rigali led a penance service at the Cathedral Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul, ending a week where 21 priests — under investigation for abuse, were placed on administrative leave.
The developments prompted us to look again at the 2005 Grand Jury Report that uncovered patterns of sex abuse and a pattern of moving accused priests to new parishes instead of reporting them to authorities.
Rosalind Arrington and John Delaney — both at the heart of the report — are asking why this action took six years. Arrington was the foreman of the 2005 Grand Jury. Delaney, one of the victims of abuse when he was a boy.
“We felt anger, we felt shock. We felt we had to do something,” says Arrington, who can’t hide her disbelief.
“We really thought we were kind of like the heroes in our grand jury. We thought we would be putting a stop to it. It seems that nothing was done.”
In 2005, that was not District Attorney Lynn Abraham’s intention, as a pattern of sexual abuse by priests in the Philadelphia Archdiocese came to light in a jaw dropping report. Arrington and 35 other grand jurors listened to horror stories about children as young as seven.
Arrington had read volumes of documents from what she called the secret archives of the Archdiocese that detailed complaints against priests. Those documents had been surrendered to the grand jury on order of the court. She remembers meeting the woman who had been thirteen, when a priest got her pregnant and took her New Jersey for an abortion. She can’t forget the stories of altar boys. One child had been raped by a priest in a locked church, while his mother listened desperately to his screams outside the door.
“I’ll always carry the fact that men — grown men of the cloth — did this to children, ” says Arrington. “It’s not a stranger that’s molesting these children, it’s somebody they know and somebody they trust.”
One Philadelphia child was John Delaney. He tried suiting the Archdiocese for allowing the abuse that happened to him over six years, beginning when he was eleven. But the statute of limitations didn’t permit legal action.
“This guy was a priest.” says Delaney. “Like they tell you at school, a priest is next to God. I took it very seriously as a kid.”
As a teenager, Delaney became hooked on drugs. “Drugs for me was my way out.. numbing myself from what I was going through. The man who did this to me threatened me. “
Delaney, who is now 40 and living in Tennessee, says he’s still healing from the abuse. But he’s been clean of drugs and sober for five years.
Arrington believes the church needs to help in the healing process. “A lot of people think they are looking for dollars, but that’s not so,” says Arrington.I think most of them are looking for acknowledgement that this happened.”
WEB EXTRA: Rosalind Arrington
And she believes they are looking for admission that the priests, once accused of abuse, were moved to new parishes, as an Archdiocesan practice in order to protect the priest, not the victims.
Delaney says he’d be happy with an apology.
“I’d be happy if somebody would apologize to me and tell me they did the wrong thing. Because if the shoe was on the other foot, I’d be sitting behind bars right now.”
For both Arrington and Delaney, their biggest fear is that there are more victims.
Reported by Pat Ciarrocchi, CBS 3