A sex abuse victim who testified as part of secret grand jury proceedings investigating alleged sex abuse in several Catholic Diocese across Pennsylvania has asked the state Supreme Court to unseal a report outlining the grand jury’s findings.
On July 6, Todd Frey, who was allegedly abused by a Harrisburg priest as a child, petitioned the justices to intervene in the proceedings before the high court, saying that their recent decision to block the release of the report has “exacerbated” the emotional trauma he has suffered.
“For his sake and other victims like him, Mr. Frey now seeks to intervene in order to pursue a lifting of the stay preventing public access to Report No. 1 and to encourage public access to the Supreme Court’s docket sheets and filings,” Frey said in the petition.
Last month, the state Attorney General’s Office was set to release a grand jury report, known as Report No. 1, from the Fortieth Statewide Investigating Grand Jury, which investigated alleged sex abuse and the alleged systemic failures by diocese across the state to address the abuse. The report is expected to outline the findings of the two-year investigation.
On June 20, however, the Supreme Court issued an order staying the report’s release. That decision, which was announced in a one-page per curiam order outlining none of the Supreme Court’s reasoning, caused an outcry across Pennsylvania, with editorial boards accusing the justices of “enabling” the abusive atmosphere and denying victims their voices and one state legislator calling the decision “a travesty of justice and an insult to all victims of childhood sex abuse.”
Five days later, the justices issued a five-page opinion explaining that several persons named in the report had challenged the release, contending that they were not given proper due process. The court said it decided to keep the report under wraps until it could review the challenges.
Since then, several news organizations, including Philadelphia Media Network, The Associated Press, WHYY, The Morning Call and Telemundo Mid-Atlantic, have petitioned to have the justices to make the report public.
According to the docket, Frey is the only victim seeking to intervene in those proceedings, and 26 unnamed people or organizations have responded to the media companies’ requests to make the dockets public.
In a press release, Kline & Specter attorney Thomas R. Kline, who, along with David Inscho and Charles “Chip” Becker, are representing Frey, said the respondents are reportedly priests and former priests.
“Mr. Frey is one of many victims whose voice must be heard in opposition to those who seek to keep this grand jury report secret,” Kline said in a statement to the press. “We hope that the court will act quickly to release the entire report.”
According to the petition, Frey was abused by a priest during the 1980s when he was in his early teens. After his family came forward with allegations about the abuse, the Diocese of Harrisburg did not report the abuse to law enforcement. Years later, Frey allegedly reported the abuse to law enforcement, but was told nothing could be done.
Frey was eventually asked to testify before the grand jury, which he did, according to the petition. The petition said his ability to provide testimony during the proceedings indicated to Frey that state officials were taking the abuse seriously, but the Supreme Court’s decision to temporarily block the report’s release suggested to him that the report will never be released.
“These people came forward with their stories and vulnerability. They honored their part of the bargain,” Frey said in the petition. “Pope Francis urges that the crimes and sins of sexual abuse of minors no longer be kept secret. He urges Pennsylvania to follow the path of truth wherever it may lead.”