A court filing from the Pennsylvania Attorney General seeking the release of a grand jury report into sex abuse in Catholic churches in Pennsylvania should be made public, a judge ruled Friday.
The decision is a step forward for victims of sexual assault, said Attorney General Josh Shapiro.
Now, the decision whether and when to release the filing is in the hands of the state Supreme Court.
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The grand jury report concerns six of the state's Roman Catholic dioceses — Allentown, Erie, Greensburg, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh and Scranton.
It involves allegations of child sexual abuse, failure to report it, endangering the welfare of children and obstruction of justice by people associated with the church, local public officials and community leaders.
Shapiro is among those asking the court to have the grand jury report released to the public. News organizations, including NBC10 and Telemundo 62, have also asked the court to release it.
But lawyers for nearly two dozen unnamed current and retired clergy members have filed a request to prevent the release of the report, describing the report as full of errors and "improper assertions."
They said releasing the report would irreparably harm their reputations and deny them the due process the law guarantees.
Shapiro's legal brief in response to those claims is at the heart of Friday's ruling. The clergy had challenged the public release of Shapiro's brief, arguing that it includes information from the report.
"Our office continues to fight to ensure this report is released and victims’ voices are heard by the people of Pennsylvania," Shapiro's statement read. "This marks an important step in that process."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.