Group seeks criminal probes of Catholic order


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — A group that advocates for victims of clergy abuse wants authorities to investigate the Legion of Christ, a disgraced Roman Catholic order.

Two lawsuits in Rhode Island claim the Legion of Christ deceived elderly donors into giving it millions at the same time its officials knew the church was investigating its founder, the late Rev. Marcial Maciel, for allegations including sex abuse. The order has said its actions in both cases were proper. A spokesman for the Legion did not return messages seeking comment this week.

The Vatican took over the order in 2010 after the investigation determined that Maciel had fathered three children and molested seminarians. In December, the Legion admitted a superior in charge of American priests-in-training sexually abused a minor at the Legion’s novitiate in Cheshire, Conn., where he was novice director from 1982 to 1994.

David Clohessy, executive director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said on Thursday that Rhode Island and Connecticut law enforcement should investigate.

‘‘The Legion’s known and suspected wrongdoing is so persistent and widely documented that we think action by law enforcement is warranted. No institution can or should be allowed to essentially police itself,’’ he said.

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