Diocese Investigation : One Month Later
By Lauren Hensley
April 1, 2016
Friday marked one month since the grand jury reported sexual assault at the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown.
Reports said religious leaders allegedly sexually abused hundreds of child victims and incidents were covered up by diocese leaders.
"The church needs to come clean and be honorable and be truthful. That is what we need to do for these victims," Rosalind Merrits, of Hollidaysburg, said.
6 News received a statement from U.S. Attorney David Hickton that said there may be a federal investigation after a loophole was found in the system that may result in charges.
"While we cannot discuss the specifics of an active investigation, we can affirm that our investigation is ongoing. We have been and will continue to consider all resources available under federal law, including civil and criminal Racketeering Influence and Corruption Organization Act, to address the type of widespread misconduct alleged in the state grand jury report," Hickton said.
The act allows leaders to be tried for crimes in which they ordered others to do or assisted in doing.
A statute of limitations still exists for RICO, but the possibility for a civil claim still exists.
The vocal victims support group SNAP, the survivors network for those abused by priests, said, "We believe it can and should be used against bishops and other church staff who repeatedly endanger kids, deceive parishioners, move predators, hide evidence and refuse to call law enforcement about known and suspected clergy child sex crimes and cover ups."
There is currently no word if a civil suit will be filed.