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Philadelphia Archdiocese bars 5 priests in child sex abuse scandal

From Ross Levitt, CNN
updated 3:03 PM EDT, Fri May 4, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: The five men have a right to an appeal, Philadelphia's Catholic archbishop says
  • NEW: The investigation found 3 suspended clergymen are now considered "suitable for ministry"
  • NEW: Results of the findings about 17 others will be announced later

Philadelphia (CNN) -- Philadelphia's Catholic archbishop announced Friday that five priests will not be reinstated following a church investigation into accusations of child sex abuse, though the men have a right to an appeal.

The church also determined that three suspended clergymen are now considered "suitable for ministry," while the findings of its investigation into 17 others would not be announced until a later date, Archbishop Charles Chaput told reporters.

Dozens of priests were placed on administrative leave after the release of a 2011 grand jury report that blamed the Archdiocese of Philadelphia for failing to prevent the sexual abuse of children.

"I've been in Philadelphia for less than a year, and I've tried as quickly as possible to understand all of the many issues facing our local church," Chaput said Friday. "During that time, dealing with sexual abuse and protecting children has been, and will remain, a top priority for me and for this archdiocese."

He said that of those remaining 17 church investigations, six have not yet been cleared by law enforcement, which prevents a church probe from being initiated. Two others have only recently been cleared, while the findings of the remaining nine clergy members will soon be announced.

Attorney Dan Monahan, who is representing one of the alleged victims, told CNN that the archdiocese said a clergyman accused of sexually abusing his client will not be reinstated.

The accused clergyman -- whom CNN is not currently naming -- was among those suspended after the grand jury report.

That report led to the Philadelphia district attorney's office charging four priests and a parochial school teacher with raping and assaulting boys in their care. Monsignor William Lynn, once a longtime supervisor of Philadelphia priests, is suspected of allowing the abusive priests to have access to children.

From 1992 until 2004, Lynn was responsible for investigating reports that priests had sexually abused children.

He has pleaded not guilty, and he has said through his attorneys that he reported those allegations of sex abuse.

The landmark case is unusual because the charges go beyond accusations against priests and include a church higher-up charged with covering up the abuse -- a move analysts say is unprecedented in the United States.

With nearly 1.5 million members, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia is one of the largest in the nation.

Priests, particularly those in high-ranking positions, have an exceptional amount of power within the Catholic Church, especially in Philadelphia because of the church's deep roots in the community.

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