Published: Fri, October 19, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

Justice Department Opens Investigation Of Clergy Sex Abuse Inside Pennsylvania Catholic Church

Justice Department Opens Investigation Of Clergy Sex Abuse Inside Pennsylvania Catholic Church

Federal prosecutors subpoenaed all eight Catholic dioceses in the state seeking years of documents for crimes ranging from child pornography possession to transporting children across state lines and reassigning predator priests to other states to hide their conduct, said a source with knowledge of the investigation.

The source did not elaborate on what other potential federal crimes could be part of the inquiry, which could take years and is now only in its early stages.

Other dioceses in Pennsylvania also pledged cooperation.

Six of the state's eight Roman Catholic dioceses - Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Scranton, Erie, Allentown and Harrisburg - acknowledged receiving subpoenas and said they would cooperate or were working with Justice Department officials.

Survivors of child sexual abuse hug in the Pennsylvania Capitol.

He must also register as a convicted sex offender for ten years.

Shapiro said since the grand jury report was issued, a hotline operated by his office to field reports of child sexual abuse has received almost 1,300 calls.

This week, the report triggered a showdown in the state Legislature, where lawmakers facing opposition from the church declined to give child-abuse victims a two-year window to sue in cases too old to otherwise file.

The report resulted in charges being filed against only two priests.

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The Catholic Diocese of Sacramento said this week it will postpone releasing names of priests accused of sexual abuse until an independent auditor can review thousands of personnel records. The diocese said Jenky removed Anderson from all public ministry (citing a 2002 statement) and that he's "forbidden to exercise priestly ministry".

Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond, says that the federal statute of limitations could allow more time to prosecute individuals who are now out of reach under state laws. "The federal government has so far been utterly silent on the Catholic cases". "It's potentially enormous", he said. "But it needs to be done", said David Hickton, the former US attorney in western Pennsylvania who considered accusing the Altoona-Johnson Diocese of criminal or civil racketeering in 2016 but left office before the investigation was completed.

The subpoenas were first reported by The Associated Press, which said investigators sought to examine organizational charts, insurance coverage, clergy assignments and confidential documents stored in what has become known as the church's "Secret Archives".

Spokespeople for McSwain and the DOJ declined to comment. "We have the full weight and attention of the United States federal government investigating the Roman Catholic Church", said Shaun Dougherty, 48, of Johnstown, who told authorities he was molested by a priest as a boy in the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese.

Child USA's Hamilton, for one, said she thinks using federal RICO as a weapon against the church would be a stretch, since the 1970 law is not created to deal with problems such as sex abuse and other personal injury cases. "I hope that they can find a way to make it fit, but it will be challenging", she said. "Or, it can stand with the Church and its lobbyists and fail to act".

"But it needs to be done", said David Hickton, the former US attorney in Pittsburgh who looked at the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese in 2016.

The overall goal of the suit, Jeff Anderson said, is to bring about the release of all information relevant to the abuse of children by priests in IL.

Prosecutors would have to prove that the church directly invested in, maintained an interest in, or participated in the criminal behavior affecting interstate, even foreign commerce. "This has emboldened the states' attorneys general, and federal prosecutors are seeing the same thing. It is my commitment to build on the efforts of the past and continue to improve upon them".

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