We Can Take On the Catholic Church for Covering Up Child Sex Abuse. Here’s How

By Marci Hamilton

The Pennsylvania grand jury report on clergy sex abuse in six dioceses is a call to action, in part because so few indictments flowed from its documentation of over 1,000 victims and 300 perpetrator priests. It details enormous injustice and institutional malfeasance, but we are left with only two indictments of perpetrators.

The institution and the bishops once again have been permitted to skate free, as though this is not a criminal enterprise in the most classic sense. It’s time to bring the Catholic Church to account for what it’s done.

Charge the church as a corrupt organization

It is natural to ask why the U.S. Roman Catholic Church has not been sued under the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, or RICO, for its systemic cover up of child sex abuse on such a large scale. The answer is that, as currently written, the law does not apply to this situation, because the “predicate act” needed to bring a federal RICO claim cannot be a personal injury like sex abuse.

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