August 29, 2019
By Michael Rezendes and Emily Wagster Pettus
Catholic sex abuse survivors in Mississippi and Wisconsin on Thursday demanded that federal authorities investigate allegations from three black Mississippi men who say they were molested by Franciscan friars during the mid-1990s, when they were as young as 9 years old.
Mark Belenchia, the Mississippi leader of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, issued a statement calling for federal law enforcement agencies to “pursue any federal charges that may be possible due to the interstate transmission of the victims for the purpose of rape and exploitation by abusive clergymen.”
“It’s time for the outside authorities to come in and investigate … find out what we know, what they know and what they’ve covered up — because I guarantee you, they covered it up. It’s just systemic,” he said at a news conference in front of the offices of the Jackson diocese.
Stephen J. Carmody, an attorney who represents the diocese, told The Associated Press that the diocese took all the proper steps in the case, including making reports to police and social services officials when it first learned in 1998 of abuse allegations against a friar.
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