The Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report on Clergy Abuse
On Tuesday, August 14, at 2:00pm a grand jury report detailing clergy sexual abuse in six PA dioceses was released, shining light on 1000+ child survivors in our commonwealth, and many of them are right here in our community. These survivor’s stories are finally being heard and believed but their justice is limited by the structure of institutions in power and our laws. It must be understood by all that delayed reporting is the norm and should be expected. PA laws should reflect this reality.
Please check out these links to assist you with taking care of your wellbeing amidst the release of this troubling report.
Taken from the National Sexual Violence Resource Center:
YWCA Lancaster Stands beside the Victim Survivors
“We, the members of this grand jury, need you to hear this. We know some of you have heard some of it before. There have been other reports about child sex abuse within the Catholic Church. But never on this scale. For many of us, those earlier stories happened someplace else, someplace away. Now we know the truth: it happened everywhere.” – The opening paragraph of the Grand Jury Report into child sexual abuse by clergy members inside six of the eight Catholic Church dioceses in PA.
The results of this two-year long grand jury investigation were released in the form of the largest, most extensive US report on child sex abuse in the Catholic Church. This report detailed decades of child sexual abuse committed by known clergy and the subsequent systemic cover-up of those horrific crimes, here in Lancaster and our surrounding areas.
We, the staff of the designated rape crisis center in Lancaster PA, are struggling to find words to appropriately express the complexity of our reactions and feelings resulting from the publication of this report.
We are angry. Angry, because one of the most well-known institutions in the world, an institution were many sought solace and guidance, abused its power in one of the most heinous ways. We are angry because the systemic oppression within the Church system granted power, protection, and control to the predators who committed these vicious crimes. We are angry because victim survivors summoned the courage to find their voice and disclosed the truth years (even decades) ago, but were not believed or supported. We are angry because once again, sexual perpetrators preyed upon a group of our most vulnerable and precious: children.
We acknowledge our anger, as it is real, necessary, and important to our healing. Yet we refuse to be controlled by anger. Instead, we work to allow this energy to motivate us in our efforts of increased support, awareness and change. We choose to sit on the side of hope. It is this hope we witness every day through the strength and resilience exhibited by children and adult victim survivors of sexual abuse.
We have hope that those affected by this case may begin to feel a sense relief, safety, and justice. We hope that persons working in institutions of power will recognize the impact that failing to report crimes against children has on both the individual and the community. We hope that voices continue to rise out of darkness and bring these crimes and abuses into the light for all to see.
We want to say to our community: we are here. We stand beside you to offer support, motivation, education, inspiration and hope. You are not alone.
YWCA Lancaster’s Sexual Assault Counseling Center provides support and advocacy for victim survivors of sexual abuse, for significant others, and for other family members. The goal is to facilitate healing and empowerment for those who have experienced sexual trauma. The Counseling Center utilizes special programs designed for children, adolescents, and adults to meet their diverse needs.
The Counseling Center is thankful to have a mobile counselor who is able to serve clients in school settings across Lancaster County. Our mobile counselor works with schools to establish a confidential place within each school where our specialized counseling can occur, where we can ensure that necessary releases and permission by a guardian(s) are obtained, and where the child can be served in a comfortable and safe setting. Having a traveling counselor eliminates some of the barriers that families may face that would inhibit their child receiving services, such as transportation, financial issues, fear of a new environment, and others.
All counseling services are confidential and are at no cost. Staff members or trained volunteer advocates are available 24 hours a day through our sexual assault hotline: 717.392.7273
The Counseling Center is also deeply committed to heightening the community’s awareness of child sexual assault issues through primary prevention programs.
We feel every victim survivor of sexual violence should have access to exceptional mental health services. In addition to our downtown location, we have created the following satellite sites throughout Lancaster County with services by appointment:
- Downtown Lancaster
The Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape (PCAR) designates the YWCA Lancaster Sexual Assault Center as the Rape Crisis Center for Lancaster County.
For further information about our services or to arrange a counseling session, please contact Iesha Fitzgerald.
You Are Not Alone
Victim survivors of sexual abuse often feel alone and isolated. YWCA Lancaster is launching a video campaign in support of victim survivors with the empowering message: “You’re Not Alone”. Sexual abuse is an epidemic; the uprising of the social media viral response #MeToo highlights the prevalence of this crime and how many people have experienced numerous forms of sexual violence.
In light of the many brave women who have come forward and shared their stories of sexual abuse at the hands of well known, powerful men, victim survivors of ALL genders need to know they’re not alone, now more than ever.
of sexual assault and abuse, and their loved ones, received professional counseling and support at no cost. 27% of the clients counseled were children.