On the front page of a recent edition of the New York Times there was a story about priestly sexual abuse that occurred “long ago” in a western Pennsylvania diocese. The story’s omissions were glaring. Here are some of them:
- Readers never learn what “long ago” means. In fact, the cases of alleged abuse extend back to World War II.
- Readers never learn why old cases of alleged abuse at one high school in the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown was sufficient cause for the local D.A. to refer these cases to the state Attorney General.
- Readers never learn why a grand jury of decades-old allegations in the diocese was summoned, but no other institution, public or private, was probed. It simply cannot be that there are no old cases outstanding in any other institution in the state. So why the cherry-picking?
- Readers never learn that the attorney who took the case in western Pennsylvania came from out-of-state, and that he has a tarnished ethical record.
- Readers never learn that the two bills that are proposed to revise the statute of limitations on sexual abuse cases involving minors only apply to private institutions. Neither bill would affect the public schools, even though Pennsylvania public school teachers have the second worst record in the nation when it comes to raping students.
Other than that, the story was accurate.