Monsignor Saylor said a mayor of Johnstown sent candidates for police and fire chief to him for interviews, and he would tell the mayor whom to pick. The grand jury report quoted former Altoona police Chief Peter Starr as crediting his own appointment to such arrangements and saying that the “politicians of Blair County were afraid of Monsignor Saylor,” who was editor of the diocesan newspaper.
With such influence, “Hogan saw no obligation of faith or law to the children of his parishioners,” the grand jury report said.
The grand jury probe expanded into a sweeping look at abuse dating as far back as the 1940s.
The grand jury is recommending the complete removal of statutes for future child sexual abuse criminal cases and opening a window of time allowing civil suits for past abuse, as some other states have done.
The grand jury investigation began with a referral by the Cambria County District Attorney’s office to the state Office of the Attorney General regarding alleged abuse at Bishop Mc Cort Catholic High School in Johnstown.
“Priests were returned to ministry with full knowledge they were child predators.” EDITOR’S NOTE: The following grand jury report contains graphic language. Bishop Adamec refused to testify to the grand jury, invoking his constitutional right not to testify against himself in a criminal matter, but his lawyer issued a 10-page statement defending his actions and saying the grand jury report omitted key evidence.
The Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown issued a statement responding to the report, noting that it had “cooperated fully with authorities throughout the investigation, and will continue to do so as part of our commitment to the safety of all children.” “This is a painful and difficult time in our Diocesan Church,” said the Most Rev. Bartchak, bishop of the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown, who took office in 2011 and who drew favorable comments from the grand jury for his responses to abuse allegations.
Hundreds of children were molested, raped and destined to lasting psychological trauma by clerics whose abuses were covered up by their bishops, other superiors and even compliant law-enforcement officials in Blair and Cambria counties, the report said.