A couple of years ago, the Philadelphia archdiocese heard about three priests who had allegedly raped two boys. It gave the priests' files to law enforcement, and a grand jury began to investigate. Then, the grand jury stumbled on a bombshell. A church employee testified that there were many other priests the panel should know about.
"The grand jury found that a policy of zero tolerance was not actually in effect," says District Attorney Seth Williams, "and that there were many priests that had allegations made against them that were still in active ministry."
The archbishop of Philadelphia has suspended 21 priests connected to allegations of child sex abuse, the latest in a series of actions by the archdiocese to deal with findings in a disturbing grand jury report released last month.
The grand jury report accused a monsignor, three priests and a parochial schoolteacher of abusing kids or failing to prevent abuse by others. It also said that as many as 37 priests remained in active ministry with allegations or reports of inappropriate behavior or sexual abuse of minors.