Barbara Underwood, New York attorney general, launches investigation into state’s Catholic churches
New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood created a hotline to gather information on abuse committed by Catholic clergy members as her office launched an investigation on Thursday into sexual abuse allegations in the New York Diocese.
“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,” Ms. Underwood said in a statement.
The Attorney General Charities Bureau will be handling the investigation into New York churches, which was inspired by the grand jury report from Pennsylvania.
“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,” Ms. Underwood said.
The press release emphasized that while all victims are welcomed to come forward with their claims, not all cases will be prosecuted because of statutes of limitations.
Currently, only individuals age 23 or younger can pursue criminal or civil cases. Some of the most serious allegations do not have a criminal charge expiration date, if they occurred in 2001 or thereafter.
The Pennsylvania report’s revelation shook the entire church, with many members both in the U.S. and abroad demanding these priests face legal or canonical punishment.
Both Cardinal Wuerl, archbishop of D.C., and Pope Francis face accusations of covering up clergy abuse.
The Vatican had declined to comment on allegations against Pope Francis, but said the revelations were “reprehensible.”
“Those acts were betrayals of trust that robbed survivors of their dignity and their faith. The Church must learn hard lessons from its past, and there should be accountability for both abusers and those who permitted abuse to occur,” Director of the Holy See Press Office Greg Burke said in a statement.