This story has been updated.
A "clergy abuse" telephone hotline has been set up by the state Attorney General's Office, as well as an online complaint form as subpoenas are being issued to all eight Roman Catholic Dioceses in New York.
On Thursday, Sept. 6, Attorney General Barbara D. Underwood announced the new methods in which victims and anyone with information can provide tips. It's part of the Attorney General’s ongoing investigation into sexual abuse of children within the New York dioceses of the Catholic Church.
The Attorney General's Charities Bureau, which oversees nonprofit organizations, is conducting the civil investigation into allegations of sexual abuse of minors in Catholic dioceses. Meanwhile, the office's Criminal Division is working with local district attorneys to potentially prosecute anyone within the dioceses on criminal charges related to sex abuse or cover-up of abuse.
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.
Victims and anyone with information about abuse can call the hotline at 1-800-771-7755 or file a complaint online at ag.ny.gov/ClergyAbuse. An investigator will review all allegations; the Attorney General and our law enforcement partners will seek to protect victims’ and witnesses’ identities.
The Attorney General’s Charities Bureau has launched a civil investigation into how the dioceses and other church entities – which are non-profit institutions – reviewed and potentially covered up allegations of extensive sexual abuse of minors.
As announced last month, the Attorney General’s Criminal Division is also seeking to partner with District Attorneys – who are the only entities that currently have the power to convene grand juries to investigate these matters – to investigate and, if warranted, prosecute any individuals who have committed criminal offenses that fall within the applicable 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. 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,” Underwood said. “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.”
It is important to note that many cases of abuse may not be prosecutable given New York’s statutes of limitations. The Attorney General has repeatedly urged the State Legislature to pass the Child Victims Act, which would allow all victims to file civil suits until age 50 and seek criminal charges until age 28. Prior Daily Voice coverage of that issue can be found by clicking here.
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