Four More States Will Investigate Church Records after Pennsylvania Sex-abuse Report
By Jack Jenkins
Religion News Service
September 6, 2018
Last month, after Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro unveiled a bombshell 1,300-page grand jury report detailing the alleged sexual abuse of more than 1,000 children by 301 Catholic priests, many Americans called for more investigations into Church documents.
Now law enforcement officials in at least four states — New Mexico, Florida, Missouri and Illinois — appear to be launching inquiries or reviews of Catholic dioceses, often focusing on what Shapiro called secret files thought to contain decades of allegations of child sex abuse by priests.
Other investigations could follow, although identifying which states will launch them is complicated, in part due to differing legal systems that give some state attorneys general less power to investigate than in Pennsylvania. Some dioceses have already been investigated or have long-standing agreements with law enforcement.
New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas announced his office’s inquiry on Sept. 5, sending 10-page letters “in contemplation of litigation” and legal demands to dioceses asking to review any Church records related to past or present allegations of sexual abuse.
“(Balderas) has sent investigative demands to all three dioceses in New Mexico requiring full disclosure and full transparency,” David Carl, a spokesperson for the attorney general’s office, told Religion News Service in an email. “The Catholic Church in New Mexico needs to fully reconcile and support survivors by revealing the magnitude of sexual abuse and subsequent cover up by Church leaders in order to restore faith and trust in the community.”
One of those dioceses, the Diocese of Gallup, has already pledged to work with the attorney general.