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Catholic Church

New York attorney general subpoenas all 8 Roman Catholic dioceses in sex abuse probe; New Jersey announces its own investigation

The New York subpoenas are part of an ongoing civil investigation into how dioceses reviewed and potentially covered up allegations of sexual abuse of minors

PUBLISHED : Friday, 07 September, 2018, 3:50am
UPDATED : Friday, 07 September, 2018, 4:06am

New York’s attorney general has issued civil subpoenas to all eight Roman Catholic dioceses in the state as part of a sex abuse investigation, a law enforcement source said on Thursday.

The subpoenas are part of an ongoing civil investigation by Attorney General Barbara Underwood’s office into how dioceses reviewed and potentially covered up allegations of extensive sexual abuse of minors, said the source, who asked not to be identified.

Last month, Underwood sought to partner with district lawyers, the only entities with the power to convene grand juries in the state, to investigate and potentially prosecute individuals who have committed criminal offences within the statutes of limitations.

“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 in a statement on Thursday, announcing the New York investigation.

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The Archdiocese of New York said in a statement it was eager to work with Underwood in the investigation and provide any information available.

“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,” said Joseph Zwilling, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of New York.

New Jersey joined New York in announcing it will conduct an investigation of sex abuse by clergy in the state’s Roman Catholic dioceses.

New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said Thursday that he is establishing a task force to be headed by a former county prosecutor.

The group is authorised to present evidence to a state grand jury and will have the power of subpoenas to compel testimony and the production of documents.

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The announcement comes three weeks after a grand jury investigation found rampant sexual abuse of more than 1,000 children by about 300 priests in Pennsylvania.

New Jersey Catholic Conference executive director Patrick Brannigan says the group welcomes the investigation and will “cooperate fully”.

The conference represents the state’s bishops.