The New York attorney general’s office has issued civil subpoenas to all eight of the state’s Roman Catholic dioceses, a law enforcement source told Reuters, as investigations into sexual abuse allegations within the Catholic Church gain steam across the country.
The unidentified source revealed these subpoenas were part of an ongoing investigation into dioceses’ review processes and potential cover-ups of alleged sex crimes committed by Catholic priests, Reuters reported.
“The Attorney General’s Charities Bureau has launched a civil investigation into how the dioceses and other church entities — which are non-profit institutions — reviewed and potentially covered up allegations of extensive sexual abuse of minors,” the attorney general’s announcement read.
New York is among the growing number of states across the nation that have begun investigations into claims and cover-ups of sex crimes in the church.
More have also begun to consider pulling secret and/or decades-old files from the dioceses for review as well, according to The Washington Post.
The Associated Press reported that following the issuing of subpoenas in New York, New Jersey announced a criminal task force Thursday that will look into the handling of abuse allegations in its seven dioceses.
“We owe it to the people of New Jersey to find out whether the same thing happened here,” New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said in a statement. “If it did, we will take action against those responsible.”
The Post reported that New Mexico began its investigation this week, and Nebraska and Missouri may soon follow suit.
Last month, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced the results of a grand jury report on a two-year investigation that uncovered records stating that, over 70 years, nearly 1,000 people, mainly children, had been sexually abused by over 300 priests in six of the state’s dioceses.
The shocking announcement has caused many in the church to demand criminal investigations. According to the statement by New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood, it compelled officials to take action in New York.
“The Pennsylvania grand jury report shined a light on incredibly disturbing and depraved acts by Catholic clergy, assisted by a culture of secrecy and cover ups in the dioceses,” Underwood said Thursday in her announcement.
“Victims in New York deserve to be heard as well — and we are going to do everything in our power to bring them the justice they deserve.”
Joseph Zwilling, a spokesperson for the Archdiocese of New York, said it would be as cooperative as possible as the investigation moves forward.
“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,” he said.
So far, the Diocese of Buffalo has agreed to cooperate with the investigation by the New York State attorney general or district attorney, Reuters reported.
Victim hotlines have been set up in New York and New Jersey to assist officials as the investigations begin.
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