Long Island Catholic


Could the priest sexual-abuse scandal get any worse? For Long Islanders who opened their morning paper on February 10, the answer was yes. It described a Suffolk County, New York, grand jury report detailing the history of how the Diocese of Rockville Centre had deliberately and systematically mishandled dozens of cases. The grand jury report, online at www.co.suffolk.ny.us/da/home.htm, is a compilation of what New York tabloids have dubbed "the sins of the fathers." In this case, the tabs didn’t have to sensationalize. Detailed descriptions of crimes involving sexual assault, even when couched in legalese, are horrific. The report doesn’t mention names. Accused priests are referred to as "Priest A" and so forth, almost exhausting the alphabet. The grand jury was unable to call for indictments because the statute of limitations had run out. But it did ask for changes in the law to make future sexual abusers criminally accountable. The reaction from the diocese was to emphasize its cooperation with the report-diocesan officials’ testimony and documents comprised much of its content-and to claim that the cover-up charged in its pages never existed. There is no way to render these offenses-inflicted mostly on teenage boys but, in at least one case, girls-understandable. The grand jury’s chronicle would make anyone sick. Yet, for a select group of Long Islanders, it...

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About the Author

Peter Feuerherd is a freelance writer in New York.