Mariana Sorensen, author of two high-profile grand jury reports on the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, has resigned from the district attorney's office. Her last day of work was Friday, June 21.
Sorensen, an assistant district attorney in the special investigations unit, declined to be interviewed. A polarizing figure, she was regarded by victims advocates as a champion crusader, and by church critics as a Catholic-hating zealot.
The 2005 grand jury report on the archdiocese was a ground-breaking document nationally that exposed sexual abuse of minors by the local clergy. This reporter hailed it as a "literary masterpiece." To the local archdiocese's lawyers, however, it was "a vile, mean-spirited diatribe" that sought to convict the Catholic Church in the court of public opinion, based upon "an unfair and inaccurate portrayal of facts."
Archdiocese lawyers may have argued over how the facts were portrayed, but they couldn't argue with the weight of the evidence. The 2005 grand jury report was based upon 45,000 documents subpoenaed from the archdiocese's own secret archive files. Those files, kept in a locked safe at archdiocese headquarters, catalogued the sins of priests over four decades.
Sorensen's subsequent work did not measure up. A 2011 grand jury report on the archdiocese was found by this reporter to be intellectually dishonest, and riddled with more than 20 factual errors.
A spokesperson for the district attorney's office, Tasha Jamerson, dismissed as "ridiculous" any speculation that the flawed 2011 grand jury report had anything to do with Sorensen's departure.
"Mariana Sorensen is an excellent ADA whose work is respected all over the country," Jamerson wrote in an email. "After working almost non-stop on the Kermit Gosnell and [Msgr. William] Lynn, [Edward] Avery, [Bernard] Shero and [Father James J.] Brennan Grand Jury investigations and trials for the past three years, Mariana is taking some much needed time off," Jamerson said.
"If Mariana decides to come back to the D.A.'s office she will always have a position waiting for her."
Jeffrey R. Anderson, a St. Paul, Minn., lawyer who had filed more than 1,000 sex abuse cases nationally against the Catholic clergy, told this reporter he was "riveted" when he read the 2005 grand jury report for the first time. Anderson called the grand jury report "a watershed" that exposed the depth of corruption in the clerical culture.
"This is the first time it has been comprehensively investigated and articulated," Anderson told National Catholic Reporter in 2005. "They did something here that nobody has really done before."
That 2005 grand jury report was hailed by victims' advocates around the country. In 2007, Marci Hamilton, a Yeshiva University law professor, convened a conference in New York City, "Call To Action," to promote legislative efforts in states around the country to lift statute of limitations regarding victims of sex abuse.
Hamilton introduced Sorensen at the conference by saying she was a member of "by far the best D.A.'s office in the country."
Hamilton did not respond to a request for comment; neither did officials for SNAP.
Dave Pierre writes The Media Report, which is dedicated to "separating fact from fiction" in the media's treatment of the Catholic sex abuse scandal. In his view, Mariana Sorensen is a bigot.
"Mariana Sorensen's decade-long, bigoted attack against the Catholic Church has now resulted in innocent men being sent to prison for crimes they didn't commit," Pierre wrote in an email. "Her grotesque characterizations of the actions by Church officials and priests have now led to the false public perception in Philadelphia that a pedophiliac demon lurks behind every man in a Roman collar."
Pierre also took a shot at the local media.
"I doubt that the media will make much, if anything, of Sorensen's exit," he said, "as the Philly media has been fully complicit in the shocking fraud and corruption that has taken place under Sorensen's watchful eyes for many years."
Pierre was right about one thing; Sorensen's departure from the D.A.'s office has gone unreported until today.