As Pennsylvania investigates dioceses, N.Y. prosecutors stay bystanders

Buffalo News

July 1, 2018

By Jay Tokasz

[Note: This article references two NY grand jury reports – Westchester County (released on June 19, 2002), and Suffolk County (released on February 10, 2003).

Special agents with the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office used search warrants and subpoenas last year to seize evidence of a massive cover-up of clergy sex abuse in six Catholic dioceses in the state.

But despite growing revelations of sex abuse by priests in the Diocese of Buffalo, law enforcement authorities in New York aren’t investigating whether crimes were committed in keeping the abuses hidden for so long.

Erie County District Attorney John J. Flynn and a spokeswoman for the state attorney general both said that their offices don’t have the authority to investigate a diocese for criminal matters, although district attorneys in Westchester and Suffolk counties used grand juries to do that 16 years ago.

“My only jurisdiction is against individual people,” said Flynn. “I have no authority to bring a case against an organization. That would be something the attorney general would need to look into.”

Amy Spitalnick, spokeswoman for Attorney General Barbara D. Underwood, said investigation of sex abuse crimes falls outside the scope of what the AG’s office does and should be handled by district attorneys.

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