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October 18, 2018

U.S. Justice Dept. opens investigation into clergy child abuse in Pennsylvania

Investigations Churches
08142018_stained_glass_Unsplash Photo by Ant Rozetsky /on Unsplash

Pennsylvania's clergy abuse hotline has received 1,862 calls since being instituted last August.

Following the landmark grand jury report in August outlining child sexual abuse accusations against more than 300 priests across Pennsylvania, the U.S. Justice Department has reportedly opened an investigation of child sexual abuse across the Roman Catholic Church in the state.

The Justice Department is reportedly using subpoenas, filed by U.S. Attorney William McSwain of Philadelphia, to demand confidential files and testimony from church leaders, according to the Associated Press

McSwain is reportedly seeking to learn if priests, bishops, or others committed federal crimes. 

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia and its clergy were not investigated by the August grand jury report.

Following Pennsylvania's report, New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal announced a criminal task force last month to investigate allegations by Catholic clergy in the state.

On Wednesday, the Pennsylvania Senate opted to not vote on a bill that would have aided child sexual abuse victims by changing the state’s statute of limitations.

On the same day, a former priest in northwest Pennsylvania admitted to sexually assaulting one boy and attempting to assault another. 

“Because of outdated statute of limitations laws in Pennsylvania,” Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro said at a news conference Wednesday, “other victims may never have their day in court.”

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