(PENN LIVE) Hundreds of children were sexually abused over a period of at least four decades by priests or religious leaders in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown, a statewide investigating grand jury has concluded.

The findings by the grand jury, released Tuesday by the office of state Attorney General Kathleen Kane, detail widespread abuse involving at least 50 priests or religious leaders. The findings reveal a troubling history of diocesan superiors concealing the child abuse as part of an effort to protect the church’s image.

The 147-page report details — at times graphically — accounts of sexual abuse of children at the hands of priests and church leaders. The late Monsignor Francis B. McCaa, the report notes, was “a monster” who groped and fondled the genitals of at least 15 boys, many of them altar boys. McCaa was assigned to Holy Name Church in Ebensburg for more than 20 years.

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