Attorney General Report Shows Prosecutors Allowed Church to Hide Abusive Clergy
Posted on: May 10, 2023 Catholic Church Sexual Abuse
Father William Q. Simms was one of many clergy members named as an abuser in the Maryland Attorney General’s report on child sex abuse in the Archdiocese of Baltimore. Unfortunately, the story of how Simms continued to have access to children, even after several allegations of sexual abuse, is not an aberration. The attorney general’s report is full of examples of how the Maryland Catholic church wielded its power to protect itself for decades from allegations of child sexual abuse by its clergy.
In 1985, after parents had brought their concerns about Simms to the Archdiocese of Baltimore, he was sent to the St. Luke Institute for evaluation. While doctors there described Simms as “being attracted to the innocence, gracefulness and liveliness of young boys around him,” they never diagnosed Simms as a pedophile. After treatment, Simms was removed from his priestly duties, but went on to work in various Maryland parishes and leadership roles for the next 20 years.
As it turned out, church attorneys called the county prosecutor shortly after Simms’ evaluation at the St. Luke Institute. The prosecutor actually agreed to an immunity deal regarding Simms. The deal stated that Simms would never be brought to trial as a defendant, “no matter how serious the accusations” against him, as long as he cooperated with law enforcement about the assaults he committed. In negotiating the deal, the assistant state’s attorney wrote that they “believed the church would take appropriate action” against Simms. Clearly, the church never took any action against Simms. More and more allegations of sexual abuse against Simms would come to light in the following decades, in 1997 Baltimore County prosecutors considered filing criminal charges against Simms. When word got out about the pending criminal charges, the archdiocese pointed to its earlier agreement regarding Simms and no charges were filed.
Simms is not the only example of the church using its influence to protect itself and sexually abusive clergy. The attorney general’s report cites many attempts by the church to cover up priests’ abusive behavior. Along with “refusing to acknowledge allegations for as long as possible,” the report found that the church would try and intimidate victims and their families, and even use its power to try and sway law enforcement. The Archdiocese of Baltimore allowed all of this to go on for at least the 80 years the report spans. While it says it is committed to helping survivors of abuse by its clergy members, actions will speak louder than words going forward. Hopefully, Maryland lawmakers can help clergy sexual abuse survivors in the state by voting the Child Victims Act of 2023 into law. The Act would remove Maryland’s statute of limitations for child sexual abuse retroactively, which means survivors would be able to file claims that are currently time barred.
The entire article can be viewed here.
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