Historic Germantown, Philadelphia
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Full posting by Jim McKernan, November 8, 2007

Dr. Jim McKernan
Professor , North Carolina, 62

Fellow Germantown Readers:

I have been deeply saddened by some of the remarks that were inaccurate and hurtful about the message I recorded a few weeks ago. First let me be crystal clear — I never intended to make the clergy abuse an issue — this was done by one or two individuals. And, I never recorded any "gory details" of my abuse. I gave those only to the Philadelphia District Attorney.But growing up in Germantown had these aspects as well as the fond ones I recall. By the way it is not up to a select few to make up rules about what can or not be discussed on here. I have contacted the webmaster and he has made it clear that comments of historical value are welcome whether controversial or otherwise. These comments demonstrate a "poor form" by these few individuals who also show having desperate and damaged lives. I want them all to know I am a friend of Germantown and if I can assist anyone I shall endeavour to do so. I am not an angry felow at all — I wouldnt have devoted my life to teaching young people if I were. Or working for peace and justice in Ireland.

Fran, Rick and ANON think it inappropriate to discuss such issues here — I beg to differ — and so does the webmaster of this site — Douglas Heller — who has communicated this message to me. This is not a site for sheer "fond and pleasant memories of Germantown" — Mr Heller states clearly it is an historical chronicle — just check out the more than dozen other sites web-hosted for Philadelphia by UsHistory.Org.

I am not ashamed of calling out the Archdiocese on their abise of children — who, as the D.A has stated, lied and covered up the clergy abuse of the area youth...this was the real crime. It happened in Germantown...and all over the city and in other American cities and elsewhere in the world. Other cities church authorities have taken some responsibility for their crimes — Philadelphia has not — hiding behind archaic laws that prohibit prosecution. I have been active in having these laws changed — the naysayers should recognize that instead of being the " its over get over it — what can you change or do about it? I have done plenty along with my colleagues. Read on and you shall learn what we have done.

If I and my colleagues in SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) had not come forth with these complaints then the Church would have continued with their policies of abuse.

Let me tell Fran, Rick and Anon who state that what good does it do to talk of this here.....here is what good it did

The laws (three to be exact) have been changed/enacted to protect children in the Pennsylvania Commonwealth against abuse.

The Archdicese has had to set up a Victim Assistance Centre in Philadelphia.

The Church has had to develop new Codes of Ethics and Behaviour for priests and clergy...there is greater accountability and transparancy now — it would appear.

The many Philadelphia victms have not been helped at all. The church has denied, lied and covered up the abuse..my abuser was shipped off to Panama to continue. Believe me perverts do not change their behaviour they continue. If anyone out there has been abused then he or she should report this immediately — this is the way to protect all children who come after us.

This was not a problem with a few priests — hundreds were involved in Philadelphia alone in persistent child abuse.Some directed at young girls too.

I helped to get the new laws enacted in Pennsylvania. By not revealing my abuse I would have served the purpose of protecting the church abusers. I worked for years contacting politicians and others to get our laws chaged — I have been successful. That is the difference between doing nothing and doing something. Please note.

So — let's be straight and clear about this...because their still are priests and nuns out there who continue to abuse children both sexually and otherwise (physically, emotionally), you can be sure, and unless people come forward like myself this will continue.

I am well — healthy and allright today — some have suggested I am "stuck in neutral" — i might have been had I not come forward a few years ago.

This topic is a legitimate and genuine entry to the history of Philadelphia — its not as tasty as "tomato pizza pies" or Delassandros cheesesteaks (btw I think Henry Ave is not in Germantown — or is it? I think Roxborough...anyroad or who is dating who but it is fundamental to the well-being of Germantown.On that I stand.

Investigation of Clergy Abuse

In September 2005 the Grand Jury impaneled to investigate the sexual abuse of minors by members of the clergy released its findings. This Grand Jury report documents child sexual abuse perpetrated by 63 different priests in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and the cover-up by Archdiocese Officials. Investigations revealed that 191 priests had been acused over the past few decades.


The Investigating Grand Jury found what they considered to be a travesty of justice, a multitude of crimes for which no one could be held criminally liable under current Pennsylvania law. With the hope that the findings of the report would help ensure that nothing like this could happen in the future, the Grand Jury made the following recommendations concerning Pennsylvania law:

Abolish the criminal statute of limitations for sexual offenses against children;

Expand the offense of endangering the welfare of children;

Increase the penalty for indecent assault;

Tighten the Child Protective Services Law reporting requirement;

Amend the Child Protective Services Law to require background checks in non-school organizations;

Hold unincorporated associations to the same standard as corporations for crimes concerning the sexual abuse of children; and

Enlarge or eliminate statutes of limitations on civil suits

On November 23, 2005 Governor Rendell signed into law Act 76, which increased the penalties for indecent assault against a child under the age of 13. This increased penalty was recommended by the Philadelphia Grand Jury on Clergy Sex Abuse.

The following year, on November 29, 2006, Governor Rendell signed into law Act 179, which further expanded the child protection laws in Pennsylvania. The majority of these changes were also recommended by the Philadelphia Grand Jury on Clergy Sex Abuse.


The penalty for indecent assault was increased to a third degree felony offense in instances in which the very young victim has either been victimized on numerous occasions or who has trouble articulating whether or not there is actual penetration.

The criminal statute of limitations for sexual offenses against children was lengthened. (Although the Grand Jury recommended abolishing the time limitations, victims now have until age 50 to report their abuse; prior law allowed only until age 30.)

The crime of endangering the welfare of children was expanded. The amended law imposes criminal liability on employers or supervisors of abusers who knew of the abuse, but failed to act (or worse, concealed the abuse.)

Mandatory reporting of child abuse was expanded. This amendment closed loopholes that required victims (often young children) to report the abuse themselves and that mandated reporting only in cases where the perpetrator was a parent, guardian or caregiver. Penalties for failure to report were also increased.

The law was amended to require organizations to perform background checks for people who work with children.


The report of the Philadelphia Grand Jury revealed, in the context of the abuse of children by priests, that Pennsylvania's civil law has been inadequate to deliver justice to hundreds of victims of child abuse, to protect the public and prevent sexual predators from victimizing more children, and to deter institutions from covering up these crimes.

It is well documented that those abused by a trusted adult are most often psychologically and emotionally unable to report the devastating harm done to them until well unto adulthood. As a result, not only have Pennsylvania's child victims been denied justice, but many abusers whose offenses and identities would be exposed in prosecutions or civil suits have instead been able to continue their criminal behavior unimpeded. In addition, the civil statute of limitation needs to be changed to alter legal incentives so that no organization would benefit from covering up sexual abuse by their employees while legal liability passes.

Exposing still unknown predators is an important by-product of allowing old abuses to be redressed. Experience has shown that most sex abusers are serial offenders, preying on many victims over the years. The only hope of exposing them, bringing them to justice, and ending their access to children is through civil cases. Sexually abusive men may still be active priests, teachers, or coaches simply because their crimes were successfully concealed until the statute of limitation expired.


Anyone who has been a victim of sexual abuse should contact the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office.

God Bless and be well and safe this holiday season

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