US opens federal investigation into Catholic Church abuse

Federal authorities launch probe into Pa. Catholic church

A Pennsylvania grand jury report released in August found that more than 300 priests had abused more than 1,000 children over seven decades.

The report led to the resignation last week of Cardinal Donald Wuerl as archbishop of Washington.

A spokesperson for a non-profit group that focuses on preventing child abuse released a statement today. "It was time for them to step up and do something".

Lynn became the first USA church official ever prosecuted for the alleged cover-up of child molestation by priests when he was arrested on child-endangerment charges.

A spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney William M. McSwain said she could not "confirm, deny or otherwise comment on the existence or nonexistence of an investigation".

Other dioceses in Pennsylvania also pledged cooperation.

A spokesman for Allentown says the diocese is responding to "an information request in a subpoena from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and will "cooperate fully". "The diocese sees itself as a partner with law enforcement in its goal to eliminate the abuse of minors where it may occur".

The subpoenas seek documents stored in "Secret Archives", "Historical Archives" or "Confidential Files", and records related to the dioceses' organizational charts, finances, insurance coverage, clergy assignments and treatment of priests, according to the people who spoke to the AP.

301 Catholic priests identified as predator priests who sexually abused children.

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Only two priests were charged as a result of the investigation as most of the cases were too old for prosecution. One of those priests pleaded guilty this week.

He also assaulted the same victim and attempted to assault another after bringing them to a remote hunting cabin in Jefferson County to watch horror movies on a laptop, Shapiro said. "The cover-up was sophisticated".

Shapiro said the Diocese knew of Poulson's sexual predator tendencies since at least May 2010 when a memo in the church archives shows Poulson admitted to being "aroused" by a boy and sharing suggestive texts with numerous other boys.

A law professor warned it was premature to assume a justice department investigation will necessarily reach higher up the church hierarchy than earlier investigations or end with more serious charges. The abuse allegedly was covered up by church leaders. He used the tools of the priesthood to further his abuse.

"I hope that this encourages church leaders at every level, and in every locale, to voluntarily open their files on all priests who have been credibly accused in past decades", said the Rev. James Martin, a Jesuit priest and editor at America Magazine. "The public is ready and eager for something to be done that maybe wasn't true 15 or 20 years ago". It was not reported to authorities until September 2016 in response to a grand jury subpoena, according to Shapiro.

State-led investigations into clerical sexual abuse are now underway in several states including Maryland, Michigan, Nebraska, New Jersey, and Missouri. McSwain's predecessors have been aggressive in pursuing worldwide "sex tourism" cases in recent years, once bringing teenage boys from the Eastern European nation of Moldova to Philadelphia to testify about an American businessman who preyed on them.

Ms. Hamilton said she believes the measure will ultimately pass.

"In what other institution could you have 500 criminals and not be prosecuted?" asked Lennon, who said he was raped by a Catholic priest when he was a child. He applauded the Justice Department's actions but hopes more will be done.

"Pennsylvania might be the first state where the federal government does this", Tobias said. "It's a good start because there is a feeling that even Catholics want this investigated and want people held responsible so the church can make changes it seems reluctant to make so there can be a post-abuse church".

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