HARRISBURG — At least some of the clergy members fighting their inclusion in a grand jury report detailing allegations of child sex abuse and cover-ups have filed challenges to the latest version of the document, calling into question whether it will be released Wednesday, according to sources familiar with the matter.
Clergy members who at least temporarily won a legal battle to have their names or identities removed from the report had until Tuesday afternoon to challenge redactions proposed by the Attorney General's Office.
The state Supreme Court had ordered the prosecutors to remove "specific and contextual references" to any of the petitioners until it can weigh their arguments that the release of the full report violates their rights to their reputations and due process.
More than one such petitioner did file such a challenge under court seal, according to the sources. They declined to be identified discussing the confidential request or to elaborate on the challenges to the changes in the report.
The justices have appointed a special master, Senior Judge John Cleland, to sort through the challenges, resolve them, and authorize the redacted report's public release. If there are no objections, they said, he should release the report by Wednesday. If there are objections, Cleland has until Tuesday, Aug. 14, to release it.
The more-than-800-page report will unveil evidence of "widespread sexual abuse of children and a systemic cover-up by leaders" in six Catholic dioceses in the state, according to Attorney General Josh Shapiro, whose office led a two-year probe into the allegations. But it also has spawned the fierce legal fight, as roughly two dozen current and former clergy members have contended that releasing portions pertaining to them would violate their rights.
Shapiro had been expected to release the report in June, but the clergy members appealed to the state Supreme Court. Acting on a request from news outlets, the justices ordered that a redacted version of the report can be released while they weigh arguments about whether the portions in question should ever be released to the public. Arguments are set for Sept. 26.
The names of almost all of those clergy members remain under a protective court seal. The name of one, Erie Bishop Emeritus Donald Trautman, became public last week. He dropped his appeal after Shapiro's office agreed to stipulate that some parts of the report's blistering introduction did not apply to Trautman specifically.