Maryland Attorney General Anthony Brown's office on Wednesday released a redacted version of an investigative report that detailed sexual abuse accusations against clergy within the Archdiocese of Baltimore dating back to the 1940s.
The report of more than 450 pages is the product of a grand jury investigation four years in the making.
"What we learned is that the incontrovertible history uncovered by this investigation is one of pervasive, pernicious and persistent abuse by priests and other archdiocese personnel," Brown told reporters in a press briefing on Wednesday.
The report described that history as one of "repeated dismissal or cover up of that abuse by the Catholic Church hierarchy."
The investigation was launched in 2019 by former Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh. It was completed in November, with investigators reviewing more than 100,000 pages of documents dating back some 80 years.
The report identified 158 priests accused of abusing more than 600 victims over the past eight decades. Earlier this year, a judge ordered a redacted version of the report be made public.
When the probe was completed last November, Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore apologized "to the victim-survivors who were harmed by a minister of the Church and who were harmed by those who failed to protect them."
Lori said the institution felt "renewed shame, deep remorse and heartfelt sympathy."
The report echoes accusations of sexual abuse within the Roman Catholic Church that first became headline news in 2002, when the Boston Globe newspaper revealed that the Archdiocese of Boston had covered up sexual misconduct by its clergy for decades.
In recent years, the U.S. Catholic Church has paid out an estimated $3.2 billion to settle clergy abuse cases, according to BishopAccountability.org, which tracks the issue.
A separate report released last year showed complaints of sex abuse by pastors and staff in the largest U.S. Protestant denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention, were for years either ignored or covered up by top clergy.