Justice 4 PA Kids Fights Childhood Sexual Abuse

The Malvern-based foundation combats sexual assault against children while making civil and legal recourse more accessible for victims.

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”I couldn’t believe what I was finding out,” says Maureen Martinez, cofounder of Justice 4 PA Kids. (Photo by Jared Castaldi)Even in the wake of the most recent wave of child sex-abuse scandals, many parents still believe it can’t happen to their family. Malvern’s Maureen Martinez used to be among them—until the day in March 2011 when she learned that one of the priests at her Malvern church would be going on administrative leave. The Rev. Peter Talocci had helped Martinez through marriage counseling and baptized their children. He was now among the 21 clergymen suspended by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia over allegations of sexual abuse. Even more disturbing: A February 2011 jury report found that dozens of priests remained active in the ministry despite credible evidence against them.

“I sat there shocked,” says Martinez of her initial reaction to the news that rocked St. Patrick’s parish. “I was a lifelong Catholic. I never heard of anyone being sexually abused by priests.”

When the sex-abuse scandal in the Archdiocese of Boston broke in 2002, Martinez had convinced herself that it was an isolated case. But as the scandal grew, so did her concern that the issue was bigger than she—and most others—first thought. “I spent some time doing research, and I couldn’t believe what I was finding out. It bothered me to the point where I didn’t want to go back [to church] ever again. It made me want to do something proactive.”

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