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No Charges in Philly Priest Sex Abuse Probe

The Philadelphia Archdiocese (search) concealed sexual abuse by Roman Catholic (search) priests for four decades, a grand jury has found, but no criminal charges can be brought against the church or its clergy because of the limits of state law.

The grand jury, convened more than three years ago, issued a scathing report Wednesday that documents assaults by more than 60 priests. It explored the possibility of charges against the archdiocese, but said the organization can't be prosecuted because it is an unincorporated association rather than a corporation.

"Archdiocese leaders have endaring discovered abusers to assignments where parents and potential victims are unaware of the priests' sexual" behavior, the report said.

The report names 63 priests "whose abusive behavior was well-documented in archdiocese files and by witnesses who testified" before the grand jury.

Philadelphia District Attorney Lynne Abraham convened the grand jury investigation in April 2002 amid a nationwide scandal following the disclosure of widespread abuse in the Boston Archdiocese (search). In the Philadelphia area, church officials have said that 44 priests had been "credibly" accused of sexual assaults since the 1950s but only one priest in the archdiocese has been indicted.