The New York attorney general has issued subpoenas to Catholic dioceses across the state as part of an ongoing investigation in sex abuse cases, the Associated Press is reporting.
At the same time, New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood announced a clergy abuse hotline and online complaint form through which victims can report cases of sexual abuse in the churches.
The subpoenas come on the heels of the a report that bishops in Pennsylvania covered up acts of sexual abuse by more than 300 Catholic priests.
It also comes as priests faced new accusations in western New York. In June, an attorney claimed that eight Diocese of Rochester priests were responsible for sexual abuse against children. In the Buffalo area, 42 priests were accused of sexual abuse.
The Attorney General’s Charities Bureau has launched an investigation into how the church reviewed and potentially covered up allegations of extensive sexual abuse of minors.
The bureau is seeking to partner with district attorneys who will not only investigate the matter but will prosecute any individuals who have committed crimes.
The attorney general encourages any victim of sexual abuse within the Catholic churches to participate in the investigation. Victims and anyone with information about abuse can call the hotline at 1-800-771-7755 or through a website.
“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. 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,” said Attorney General Underwood. “I urge all victims and anyone else with information to contact our hotline. And make no mistake: the only way that justice can fully and truly be served is for the legislature to finally pass the Child Victims Act.”
Monroe County District Attorney Sandra Doorley said she had a conversation Thursday morning with several other DAs and they’re going to go over the plan set forth by the attorney general.
Doorley says what’s next depends on what turns up on the clergy abuse hotline and online complaint form the AG has set up.
Doorley says there are no active cases at this point in Monroe County at this point — at least open cases that fall within the statue of limitations.
But she is encouraging anyone who was a victim to come forward.
“We may not be able to handle their claim in the criminal justice system, but the diocese may be able to work with them to handle those reparations,” she says.
Doorley clarified further by saying those claims may be able to be handled in civil court, if victims decide to come forward.
Statement from the Diocese of Rochester
We have received the Attorney General’s subpoena and are reviewing it.
We have a longstanding policy of cooperation with law enforcement and certainly it will continue in this process. We encourage all victims to report to civil authorities. We report to civil authorities allegations of the sexual abuse of a minor.
A detailed list of our initiatives to protect children can be found at https://www.dor.org/wp-content/uploads/Update-on-Safe-Environment-Efforts2018.pdf