After the Pennsylvania attorney general dropped a bomb last month with its release of a massive report on clergy sexual abuse, we all started combing through the state’s media, seeing who was reporting on what.
Seven weeks later, they’re still out there working away. Although it’s not the state’s largest newspaper, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is leading the charge with numerous pieces packaged at this site.
The other day, the Post Gazette came up with a profile of the Pennsylvania deputy attorney general who was the leading force behind the nearly 900-page report and investigation.
It talks of a man with a strong moral sense; an ingrained conviction of right and wrong, of someone with the endurance to spearhead the five years of work that produced the massive report (which has elicited copycat investigations in at least eight other states).
HARRISBURG — Like in the Batman reruns he grew up watching as a kid, there is something about the battle between good and evil that, even as an adult, Daniel Dye can’t seem to shake from his conscience.
Maybe it’s because in those stories, someone shows up, flaws and all, when duty calls. Or maybe it’s because those people are unafraid and unabashed at feeling righteousness.
Mr. Dye, 38, muses openly about such things. On social media, where his posts often cite famous men in history or discuss the fight for justice. In a coffeehouse on an overcast weekday afternoon. And in a grand jury room, where as a senior prosecutor for state Attorney General Josh Shapiro’s office, he’s spent the last five years building the cases that led to the damning report on Catholic clergy sexual abuse in Pennsylvania — once even quoting scripture to a defrocked priest he was questioning.
As I perused more than a year of Dye’s tweets off his Twitter account, I saw a man who is passionate about punishing evil, especially regarding anything having to do with sexual abuse of children. He is also someone who very occasionally drops in a Scripture quote into a tweet and, as the story says, likes Batman.
Is the DC Comics character the sole or primary base of Dye’s passion? Is there, by chance, any faith that informs him? It’d be especially interesting to know whether he’s Catholic and thus personally outraged that his own church is at the root of this evil.
But we’re never told. Here at GetReligion we call this a religion ghost — a story haunted by an obvious faith angle that is left unexplored.
Other stories have cropped up since that Aug. 14 press conference that got the nation’s attention. This Aug. 22 piece is about two Catholic sisters near Pittsburgh who realized –- when news of the investigation broke –- that they’d been fondled by the same priest eight years apart. Back in the 1950s when it was happening, they didn’t admit it to each other.
Other newspapers have jumped in as well. The (Allentown) Morning Call came out with a piece early this month about the police officers and district attorneys who helped abusers cover their tracks. The San Jose Mercury News found a tidbit in the Pennsylvania report about a Los Gatos, Calif., priest who was part of the scandal.
The Pennsylvania state legislature is in the midst of changing its statute of limitations law, the York Daily Record reports. Do click on this link to get a list of stories the Record is promoting about the scandal. I’m not sure any newspaper is going to replicate the work of the Boston Globe, whose lonely crusade ultimately opened the gates of abuse revelations back in 2002 and ultimately got itself a role in the Oscar-winning movie Spotlight.
Clearly the most action on this topic is happening back on the East Coast and so far, it’s been newspapers in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington, DC that have carried the torch on this. I’m hoping media outlets in Maryland and New Jersey –- where there’s been just as much nasty stuff going on –- wake up and get to work reporting on the burgeoning sex abuse crisis in their backyards. I see the Baltimore Sun did a Monday piece about the Maryland attorney general investigating the Archdiocese of Baltimore.
But when will that same attorney general take on the Archdiocese of Washington (ADW), which has parishes in five Maryland counties and whose headquarters is also in Maryland? The Sun doesn’t say. The Washington Post said the ADW hasn’t been approached about an investigation, although it erroneously said the archdiocese doesn’t have headquarters in the state. Actually, it does; in Hyattsville (the same city in which I lived from 2008-2012).
I’ve been waiting for someone to take on the DC diocese for more than a decade. Let’s hope that day has arrived.