Published: Fri, October 19, 2018
Worldwide | By Jermaine Blake

Feds subpoena Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania clergy sex abuse investigation

Feds subpoena Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania clergy sex abuse investigation

One of two Roman Catholic priests charged as a result of the damning Pennsylvania grand jury investigation admitted he sexually abused children, pleading guilty Wednesday to corruption of minors and child endangerment.

After a scathing report alleging decades of sex abuse by priests in Pennsylvania, dioceses across the state said that they had received federal grand jury subpoenas.

Church officials across the state - in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Scranton, Erie, Greensburg, Allentown and Harrisburg - said on Thursday they would cooperate or were working with Justice Department officials.

"The Diocese will cooperate fully with the request, just as it cooperated fully with the information requests related to the statewide Grand Jury", the diocese said in a statement.

Three men and one woman who say they were sexually abused by priests decades ago filed a lawsuit Thursday against every diocese in IL for an alleged ongoing scheme to cover up sexual assault by priests.

It comes two months after the Pennsylvania attorney general's office released an explosive grand jury report charging that bishops and other church leaders had covered up the abuse of more than 1,000 people over a period of more than 70 years.

The state is believed to have the highest number of grand jury investigations into child sex abuse in the church nationwide, according to USA media.

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

He is one of only two priests identified in the grand jury report who faced charges.

Three sexual abuse survivors - including Josh Bollman, 32, formerly of Lena - spoke out about the abuse and how their allegations have been handled by the dioceses of Rockford, Peoria and Springfield.

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There was no indication the Justice Department is planning a nationwide investigation.

Such crimes could include taking children across state lines for illegal purposes, sending sexual images or messages electronically or ordering anyone not to contact police. The abuse allegedly was covered up by church leaders.

Meanwhile, attorneys general of several other states are now also investigating abuse and cover-ups by Catholic priests and leaders, subpoenaing dioceses in states such as New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Missouri, New Mexico and Nebraska.

A spokeswoman for McSwain declined to comment. The federal statutes of limitations that apply to crimes crossing state borders could lead to further indictments. More than 100 of the priests are dead, and many others are retired or have been dismissed from the priesthood or put on leave.

The diocese said it investigated the claims against Beebe earlier this year and the Diocesan Review Commission "unanimously determined that the allegation was unsubstantiated and could not be deemed credible".

"All credibly accused priests have been removed from ministry and the dates of such removal are also listed on the website", the statement said. It found that church leaders systematically hid evidence of wrongdoing.

Peter Isely, who was abused and is a spokesman for Ending Clergy Abuse, has been pushing for federal investigation for 15 years.

Jeff Anderson, one of the attorneys who filed the suit, said the goal was to expose "a conspiracy of silence, a conspiracy of secrecy, a conspiracy of self-protection and scandal-avoidance that is causing a hazard and a danger in real time today".

The difficulty of making charges stick against higher-ups in the church was illustrated when the Philadelphia district attorney's office brought a landmark cover-up case in 2011 against Monsignor William Lynn, a longtime aide to two Philadelphia cardinals. A jury convicted him in 2012. He is awaiting a third trial.

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