VanSickle’s story, which he recounted to The Washington Post, not only exposes the nature of the abuse that, according to the grand jury, was long cloaked by church leaders. His account also testifies to the enduring efforts of victims to make their lives whole again. Although most priests are unlikely to answer new criminal charges, VanSickle’s alleged abuser is one of the two facing prosecution. Poulson was charged earlier this year with abusing two boys between 2002 and 2010. He has yet to enter a plea.
VanSickle, who works as a tutor and life coach in Pittsburgh, is now too old to join the case. But he testified before the grand jury about his alleged mistreatment at the hands of Poulson, and he is campaigning to encourage others to speak out and to change the state’s statute of limitations so they can seek justice.
He called the release of the grand jury report a “victory” in a “war that’s just beginning” against the Catholic hierarchy. He plans to use the list of priests named in the report to track down their alleged victims in a quest to force top cardinals to account for their responsibility. His aim is to ensure that the scandal that exploded in 2002 with revelations in Boston — and has since stretched from Australia to Guam, from Ireland to Honduras and back to the United States, recently with the resignation of Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick of Washington — doesn’t fade away.