After PA Grand Jury Report, Survivors Renew Demand For Federal Investigation Into Church Sexual Violence And Cover-Up

August 15, 2018, New York – In the wake of the Pennsylvania grand jury report detailing widespread sexual violence across the state and cover-up by senior leaders of the Catholic Church in Pennsylvania and the Vatican, survivors renewed calls for a federal investigation, which they requested in 2003 and again in 2014. The Center for Constitutional Rights and the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) sent a letter to the Department of Justice demanding an investigation and reiterating the facts of the nationwide crisis that has proven to be more pervasive with each passing year. The groups say it is the responsibility of the federal government to protect children in the future by conducting a thorough investigation and taking appropriate steps.

“If they had done what we asked in 2003, how many children would have been spared?” said Tim Lennon, President of SNAP's Board of Directors.

“Despite all the evidence that thousands of children suffered needlessly to protect the image of the Catholic Church, federal officials have taken virtually no steps to probe or prevent these crimes or cover-ups or punish clerics who conceal or commit them,” said Peter Isely, who is now a founding member of End Clergy Abuse (, a new global organization of survivor leaders and human rights activists from five continents and 28 countries launched in Geneva in June. Isely authored the 2003 SNAP white paper and call for investigation to the DOJ. ECA is joining SNAP’s call today to the DOJ on behalf of survivors around the world.

“It is well documented that senior officials in the Catholic Church – from the United States to the Vatican – have not only failed to take steps to prevent sexual violence against children and vulnerable adults, but have actively insulated perpetrators, concealed offenses, and obstructed accountability efforts by survivors and civil authorities,” said Katherine Gallagher, Senior Staff Attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights.  “It is time for the United States Department of Justice to fully investigate those responsible for a system that has enabled the commission of these horrific crimes.”

SNAP and the Center for Constitutional Rights have brought complaints and reports to international bodies including the International Criminal Court and the United Nations since 2011.

Read today’s letter here. For more information on SNAP’s accountability efforts, see the Center for Constitutional Rights case page here.

SNAP, the Survivors Network, is the world's oldest and largest support group for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is

The Center for Constitutional Rights works with communities under threat to fight for justice and liberation through litigation, advocacy, and strategic communications. Since 1966, the Center for Constitutional Rights has taken on oppressive systems of power, including structural racism, gender oppression, economic inequity, and governmental overreach. Learn more at


Last modified 

August 30, 2018