Summary: Maryland Attorney General’s Report on Child Sexual Abuse in the Archdiocese of Baltimore
The April 2023 Maryland Attorney General’s Report on Child Sexual Abuse in the Archdiocese of Baltimore is the culmination of an extensive 4-year investigation launched after a Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report concluded that Cardinal William Keeler, former Archbishop of Baltimore, had systematically concealed clergy sexual abuse within the Archdiocese1. In 2018, the Maryland Office of the Attorney General (OAG) set out to investigate criminal allegations of child sexual abuse by clergy, seminarians, deacons, and other employees of the Baltimore Archdiocese, and the widespread efforts by Catholic Church leadership to hide that abuse.
The OAG’s investigation was comprised of two parts: a Baltimore City Grand Jury, which issued subpoenas to the Archdiocese and independent parishes, and a telephone hotline through which individuals could contact the office and report information on clergy abuse. The report is the product of the review of hundreds of thousands of documents dating back to the 1940s produced in response to the Grand Jury’s subpoenas, and OAG investigators’ interviews of hundreds of individuals who either witnessed or experienced clergy abuse.Scope of the Abuse
The OAG’s report reveals the staggering scope of abuse taking place within churches and schools controlled by the Baltimore Archdiocese. Set forth over 456 pages, the report begins with an overview of the information gathered, and then individually recounts allegations against each of the 156 clergy, deacons, and teachers employed by the Archdiocese revealed through the OAG’s investigation. According to the OAG, over 600 children are known to have been abused by those 156 individuals, but the actual number is likely far greater. As the report explains, the majority of individuals who experience rape and/or sexual assault do not report the abuse to authorities. In 2020, the U.S. Department of Justice found that only 22.9% of rapes and sexual assaults were reported, and that number is likely even lower when limited to children, particularly when the abuser is known to them.
The report further details the abusers’ conduct and the various ways in which they took advantage of the trust and authority conferred upon them by the Catholic Church to prey upon the most vulnerable. Father Jerome Toohey victimized a child after his mother asked Toohey to provide support and counseling to her son following her divorce. Father John Wielebski preyed on a child sent to him for counseling to cope with earlier sexual abuse. Father Howard Yeakle is accused of sexually abusing three brothers after their father was killed. Countless other clergy abused children who were particularly devoted to and involved in church life: altar servers, children who participated in Scout troops or other youth organizations, and those who worked in church rectories.
The report also points out that several parishes had multiple abusers. The OAG identified one parish, St. Mark in Catonsville, as having eleven child abusers living and working there between 1964 and 2004. The report notes that four parishes had six abusers (St. Michael-Overlea, in Baltimore; St. Patrick, in Cumberland; St. Mary, in Cumberland; and St. Clement, in Lansdowne) and that three parishes had five abusers (St. Thomas More, in Baltimore; Our Lady of Victory, in Baltimore County; and St. Clare, in Essex). Our office has reviewed the OAG’s report extensively, together with additional names of alleged abusers compiled and published by the nonprofit bishopaccountability.org and by the Archdiocese of Baltimore, and it appears that there are many more clusters of abusers at certain parishes and schools than reported by the OAG. Perhaps even more alarming is the fact that many of these parishes had multiple abusers assigned during the same time period.Systematic Cover Ups
In addition to revealing a history of pervasive child sexual abuse by clergy and other Archdiocese personnel, OAG investigators also uncovered a pattern of dismissing and concealing abuse by the Catholic Church leadership. Time and time again, Archdiocese officials and successive archbishops chose to prioritize avoiding scandal over protecting children.
Abuse allegations were ignored for as long as possible, and if the Archdiocese did eventually conduct some kind of “investigation” it was performed by other clergy members who were not independent of the Church, and in some cases by other clergy members also accused of abuse. When abuse allegations could no longer be ignored or denied, the Archdiocese would sometimes remove an abuser from a parish but would provide the parish community with no reason or a false reason for the removal, and abuser would continue to have access to children in their new assignment.
The report features numerous examples. In the 1960s, Church officials failed to investigate or inform authorities of multiple reports by parents that Father Joseph Maskell had inappropriate interactions with boy scouts and had “young girls in the rectory under suspicious circumstances.” Instead of investigating the allegations, Father Maskell was assigned as Chaplain to Archbishop Keough High School in 1969. The OAG report states that Father Maskell abused at least 39 victims. Similarly, in 1964 Father Lawrence Brett admitted to sexually abusing a young boy in Connecticut. Father Brett was sent to a treatment facility in New Mexico, and then placed at Calvert Hall College High School in 1969. The OAG report states that Father Brett abused over 20 boys in Maryland.
The report also indicates that high ranking Archdiocese officials were involved in efforts to conceal abuse and shield perpetrators from prosecution. In 1949, Father Joseph Hopkins was transferred from the Archdiocese of Baltimore to the Archdiocese of Wheeling, West Virginia, for “undocumented reasons[.]” A former parishioner of St. Cecilia Church in Baltimore later reported to authorities in 1995 that he had been abused by Father Hopkins in 1984, when he was in 8th grade. OAG investigators uncovered 1950 correspondence between Father Hopkins and Archdiocese Chancellor John Duggan, in which Father Hopkins requested permission to visit Baltimore, and wrote, “I have not been to Baltimore since my visit to the Archbishop in February 1949. No one here is of course aware of that. They have not asked any personal questions since I arrived last September. I am anxious to do the right thing.” Chancellor Duggan replied that Father Hopkins should not return because his case was “still active in the courts” and further stated, “should the authorities learn of your whereabouts, it would prove very detrimental to your interests and the interests of the church. Therefore, you must keep your whereabouts secret from anyone in Maryland or in the District of Columbia.” Once again, a decision was made to protect an abuser and avoid public scandal, at the expense of the victimized child.Updates Since the Report’s Publication
When the OAG’s report was first released in April 2023, ten names of “credibly accused” abusers and five names of officials involved in concealing child abuse allegations were redacted from the report. Since then, investigative reporters at the Baltimore Banner and the Baltimore Sun made public the names of three of the abusers: Father Samuel Lupico, Father Joseph O’Meara, and Father John Peter Krzyanski2. Subsequent reporting revealed the names of the officials whose names were previously unknown: Bishop W. Francis Malooly, Monsignor Richard Woy, Monsignor G. Michael Schleupner, Monsignor J. Bruce Jarboe, and Monsignor George B. Moeller3.
The names of seven abusers are still unknown to the public. Despite statements by Archbishop William Lori to the contrary, according to Maryland Attorney General Anthony Brown, the Archdiocese is “uniquely positioned to legally release those names to the public at any moment.”4
Additionally, the OAG’s report has resulted in the criminal prosecution of one individual: Neil Adleberg5. Adleberg was formerly a coach at Mount St. Joseph High School in the 1970s and returned to coach at the school for the 2014-2015 season. He currently faces charges of sexual abuse of a minor, sexual solicitation of a minor, and two counts of second-degree rape and attempted second-degree rape for offenses alleged to have taken place over a two-year period from 2013-2014. Adleberg’s trial is set to begin in Baltimore County on June 20, 20236.
The OAG’s report is available here
Please note that the report contains graphic descriptions of sexual assault and child sexual abuse that may be distressing to some readers. For those who prefer to access information on the clergy and other Archdiocese personnel named as abusers without reading details of the abuse, our office has compiled the assignments for each alleged abuser, available here.
1 See Memorandum and Order at 2, In re Special Investigation No. CID 18-2673 (2003) (Case No. Misc. 1144) available here; Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report available for download at: https://www.attorneygeneral.gov/report/.
2 Tim Prudente, Jessica Calefati, Dylan Segelbaum, & Liz Bowie, Secret No More: 3 Priests from Sex Abuse Report Identified, The Baltimore Banner (May 5, 2023, 3:12PM)
3 Lee O. Sanderlin and Cassidy Jensen, Bishop, Other High-Ranking Baltimore Catholic Officials Identified as those Who Helped Cover Up Sexual Abuse, The Baltimore Sun (May 6, 2023, 6:32PM)
4 Lee O. Sanderlin, Fact Check: What the Baltimore Catholic Archdiocese is Saying about the Maryland Attorney General’s Report, The Baltimore Sun (May 22, 2023, 6:00AM)
5 Darcy Costello, Former Mount Saint Joseph Wrestling Coach Accused of Sexual Abuse is Released from Home Detention with Trial Set for January, The Baltimore Sun (Aug. 3, 2022, 2:54PM)