iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood has issued subpoenas to every catholic diocese in the state as part of an investigation into how the church reviewed and possibly covered up allegations of sexual abuse of minors.
Local district attorneys would potentially prosecute any alleged crimes.
The Archdiocese of New York and the Diocese of Rockville Centre were the subjects of previous grand jury investigations in 2002. Neither report identified priests who molested kids by name, nor did the investigations result in any charges.
The Archdiocese of New York said in a statement, "While we have not yet seen a subpoena, it is not a surprise to us that the Attorney General would look to begin a civil investigation, and she will find the Archdiocese of New York, and the other seven dioceses in the state, ready and eager to work together with her in the investigation."
"Since 2002, the archdiocese has shared with its 10 District Attorneys all information they have sought concerning allegations of sexual abuse of minors, and has established excellent working relationships with each of them," the statement continued. "Not only do we provide any information they seek, they also notify us as well when they learn of an allegation of abuse, so that, even if they cannot bring criminal charges, we might investigate and remove from ministry any cleric who has a credible and substantiated allegation of abuse. We look forward to receiving the subpoena, and working with the Attorney General."
The attorney general’s office in New Jersey announced Thursday the formation of a task force to investigate Roman Catholic dioceses in that state, New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said.
"Grewal has authorized the task force to present evidence to a state grand jury, including through the use of subpoenas to compel testimony and the production of documents, in addition to other investigative tools," a statement from the New Jersey attorney general's office said.
Attorney generals in both states have established hotlines for victims.
The investigations follow a grand jury report in neighboring Pennsylvania, which alleged more than 1,000 victims of clergy sexual abuse over seven decades.
"Predators in every diocese weaponized the Catholic faith and used it as a tool of their abuse,” Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro said in a new conference last month. "Priests were raping little boys and girls and the men of God who were responsible for them not only did nothing, they hid it all — for decades."
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