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Grand Jury Reveals 301 Priests Sexually Abused 1,000 Children in Pennsylvania

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WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - A grand jury report has revealed a massive cover-up of child sexual abuse and rape of more than 1,000 children by at least 301 Roman Catholic priests in the state of Pennsylvania, state Attorney General Josh Shapiro revealed in a press conference.

"Dozens of witnesses testified before the grand jury detailing acts of sexual abuse by priests and how senior church officials covered up their criminal conduct, prioritizing their institution over the safety and welfare of these young boys and girls," Shapiro told reporters on Tuesday.

The investigation covered more than a half million internal church documents from "secret archives" maintained by every diocese in the state, which contained both allegations and admissions of the abuse and cover-up, Shapiro explained.

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The report identified 301 Catholic priests as predators and more than 1,000 child victims, with the grand jury noting that the likely number of victims was in the "thousands," Shapiro said.

Moreover, the cover-up lasted decades as the church hierarchy attempted to delay accountability until the statute of limitations would run out and therefore prevent prosecution, making nearly every instance of abuse too old to be prosecuted.

The report recommended that the state eliminate the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse, create a civil window so older victims can sue for damages and clarify criminal penalties for failure to report abuse.

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