Published: Sat, October 20, 2018
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Clergy abuse investigated in Buffalo, New York

Clergy abuse investigated in Buffalo, New York

The Justice Department has opened a probe to investigate child sexual abuse within Pennsylvania's Roman Catholic Church, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia confirmed to Fox News.

An investigation of the Buffalo Diocese in NY state, begun months before the Pennsylvania probe, has also come to light.

"The Archdiocese of Philadelphia has received a subpoena issued by a federal grand jury, which requires the production of certain documents".

The move by the Justice Department to launch an investigation, even one limited to a single state, marks a major escalation in the government's response to allegations that the church spent decades hiding the extent of the sexual abuse problem among its priests, and allowing pedophiles to continue to work and live in communities. While some identified had previously been arrested and charged with crimes, numerous newly identified church officials were deceased, or had committed the alleged abuse several decades ago, exceeding statutes of limitation.

"Survivors, parishioners and the public want to see proof that every diocese has taken sweeping, decisive and impactful action to make children safer", it said.

Officials at six of Pennsylvania's eight dioceses - Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Allentown, Erie, Scranton and Harrisburg - have confirmed to NPR that they have recently received and are now complying with federal subpoenas for information.

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The Justice Department and US Attorney's Office in Philadelphia declined to comment.

A Northern California Catholic bishop released the names of 15 priests found to have been credibly accused of sexually abusing children within the diocese. He has demanded the church turn over files from any "Secret Archives", along with financial, personnel and treatment records.

The Chicago diocese has implemented a "stringent monitoring program of clergy with substantiated cases of sexual abuse against them", the statement said.

Over 1,000 children abused by predator priests, with the grand jury noting it believed the real number of victims was in the "thousands".

The other priest charged in the investigation, the Rev. John Thomas Sweeney of the Greensburg diocese, pleaded guilty to indecent assault this summer and is awaiting his sentencing.

In September, US Catholic bishops said they would set up a hotline for accusations of sexual abuse against bishops and other church leaders, or allegations of cover ups by such people. More than 100 of the priests are dead, and many others are retired or have been dismissed from the priesthood or put on leave.

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The federal probe comes on the heels of the 18-month investigation by Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro that led to the grand jury report.

In the wake of the report's release, Shapiro said at least a dozen states opened investigations of their own and more than 1,300 accusers contacted his office on a victims' hotline.

The Pennsylvania report followed the resignation of Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the former archbishop of Washington, who is accused of sexually abusing seminarians and minors.

Lynn became the first US church official ever prosecuted for the alleged cover-up of child molestation by priests when he was arrested on child-endangerment charges. Talks on such legislation in the General Assembly have so far failed to reach a deal, and state lawmakers' two-year session is nearing its end.

Church leaders opposed the change, warning it would cripple their ability to fund Catholic charities and enrich lawyers. Many accused priests have already died. At trial, he said he had merely followed orders from above.

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