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Years into attorney general investigation of Maryland's Catholic Church, abuse survivors wonder where it stands

Alison Knezevich, The Baltimore Sun on

Published in News & Features

He didn’t answer specific questions about whether the church has turned over more documents in the past few years nor whether state investigators have interviewed archdiocese personnel.

Murphy and others who have participated in the investigation hoped it would mean some degree of accountability for the nation’s oldest diocese.

In 1995, former Catholic Community middle school teacher John Merzbacher was convicted of raping Murphy when she was a child in one of Baltimore’s most high-profile abuse cases. Murphy considers the conviction only “half justice,” saying people in the archdiocese who enabled the teacher at the Locust Point school have never faced charges.

Multiple abuse survivors told The Sun they were interviewed for Maryland’s investigation by Rich Wolf, a former FBI agent who now works in Frosh’s office.

“Everybody I’ve talked to has said he’s very good, he’s very professional, he’s very thorough,” said David Lorenz, the Maryland director for the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

Several survivors say they, too, have been told the investigation is “ongoing” when they’ve asked. But with no substantial updates, people are getting frustrated, Lorenz said.

 

They include Linda Malat Tiburzi, who, like Murphy, said she was sexually abused by Merzbacher in the 1970s. Prosecutors dropped charges involving Tiburzi and a dozen others after Merzbacher was given four life sentences for Murphy’s case; he remains in prison on the Eastern Shore.

She said her feelings about the current investigation are complicated.

“As more time passes, frustration grows, yet also I remain hopeful,” said Tiburzi, who was interviewed as part of the state investigation. “If this investigation does not produce viable evidence, how can survivors believe in our justice system and have courage to come forward?”

Murphy said with all the evidence already aired in the Merzbacher case, it’s hard for her to understand why the attorney general investigation is taking so long. A Baltimore Sun investigation in 2012 found that court documents indicated Catholic officials knew about Merzbacher’s abuse in the 1970s, but didn’t report it at the time.

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