150 calls made to Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown hotline established by Attorney General’s office
Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane
March 8, 2016
HARRISBURG — Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane today announced approximately 150 calls have been made in the last week to a hotline established for people to provide information relating to the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown.
The hotline — 888-538-8541 — is being manned by investigators who worked directly on the Office of Attorney General’s two-year investigation of the Diocese.
That investigation included the use of a statewide investigating grand jury. After reviewing evidence and testimony, the grand jury issued a 147-page report that detailed the sexual abuse hundreds of children endured over a period of at least 40 years.
Dozens of religious leaders and priests assigned to the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown were responsible for the abuse and some were instrumental in covering it up, the grand jury found.
“The victims need to be heard,” Kane said. “In many cases, they have waited years to speak about the abuse they suffered. We want to assure them that they will be taken seriously.”
The hotline went live last week on the same day that Kane released the grand jury’s report. The hotline is being manned from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Many calls have been placed by victims, including numerous senior citizens, who had yet to speak with investigators. Many stated they were abused by religious leaders associated with the Diocese. Their calls have further confirmed the findings in the grand jury’s report.
Investigators answering the calls also are working to connect victims with counseling and therapy assistance. Investigators have encouraged victims to contact the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape, which works to put victims in touch with counseling and therapy services.
PCAR maintains a statewide listing of service providers for victims of sexual abuse and domestic violence. Victims also are encouraged to call 888-772-7227 to find a local rape crisis center.
None of the criminal conduct outlined in the grand jury’s report can be prosecuted at this time. That is because of the statute of limitations being expired, abusers being deceased or because traumatized victims are unable to testify in a court of law.
Nonetheless, Kane stressed the investigation of this matter is ongoing. The Attorney General’s investigators will pursue new investigative leads as they become available.
“One call could change everything,” Kane said. “The right information could create a new lead for our investigators. That is why it is so important for those with information to reach out to us.”