Justice Department investigating clergy sex abuse in Pennsylvania


The US has for the first time opened a federal investigation into abuse committed by Catholic clergy, issuing a subpoena to dioceses in Pennsylvania two months after the publication of a report on decades of sexual abuse in the state. Meanwhile, the Buffalo Diocese in upstate NY has confirmed that it responded to a federal subpoena months ago by turning over requested documents. "The Diocese sees itself as a partner with law enforcement in its goal to eliminate the abuse of minors wherever it may occur in society".

"The abuse scarred every diocese".

Two Eastern Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania also appear to be subjects of the federal grand jury investigation.

In 2011, the Philadelphia district attorney's office brought a landmark cover-up case against Monsignor William Lynn, a longtime aide to two Philadelphia cardinals.

The findings of the 40th Statewide Investigating Grand Jury were released in a comprehensive 884-page report in August.

A representative for McSwain declined to comment, as did a justice department spokeswoman.

Over 1,000 children abused by predator priests, with the grand jury noting it believed the real number of victims was in the "thousands".

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The federal government's intervention opens a new front of legal peril for the Catholic church, given that investigations into sexual abuse by clergy members have historically been handled exclusively by state and local authorities.

The move by the Justice Department to launch an investigation, even one limited to a single state, marks a major escalation in the government's response to allegations that the church spent decades hiding the extent of the sexual abuse problem among its priests, and allowing pedophiles to continue to work and live in communities. Poulson resigned from the Erie diocese earlier this year, after a military chaplain in Texas reported a 23-year-old had alleged he was abused by Poulson starting at age 8, prosecutors said.

He demanded the bishops turn over any evidence that anyone in their ranks took children across state lines for illicit purposes; sent sexual images or messages via phone or computer; instructed anyone not to contact police; reassigned suspected predators; or used money or other assets as part of the scandal.

The victims were eight and 15 years old at the time of the crimes, the Attorney General's Office said.

"Poulson assaulted one of his victims repeatedly in church rectories", Shapiro said at a May news conference in Erie.

Shapiro had been pushing lawmakers to adopt the recommendations of the grand jury, which called for complete elimination of the criminal statute of limitations for sexually abusing children and creating a two year "civil window" for child sex abuse victims who couldn't file lawsuits before.

The Allentown Diocese also received a subpoena. The release states that one of the victims was assaulted more than 20 times in Cambridge Springs and Fryburg, and both victims were assaulted at a remote hunting camp in Jefferson County. One obvious issue is whether leaders within the church crossed state lines to conspire to cover up crimes, which is why the subpoena to the Buffalo diocese is big news. The Archdiocese of Los Angeles and the Diocese of Orange are reviewing their lists of credibly accused priests - which were last updated in 2008 and 2016, respectively - to see whether any names should be added. The Pennsylvania report followed the resignation of Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, the former archbishop of Washington, who is accused of sexually abusing seminarians and minors.