December 13, 2020
By Mary Claire Dale
Two years ago, the U.S. attorney in Philadelphia joined the long line of ambitious prosecutors investigating the Roman Catholic Church’s handling of priest-abuse complaints.
The Justice Department had never brought a conspiracy case against the church, despite exhaustive reports that showed its long history of burying abuse complaints in secret archives, transferring problem priests to new parishes, silencing accusers and fighting laws to benefit child sex assault victims.
U.S. Attorney William McSwain sent subpoenas to bishops across Pennsylvania asking them to turn over their files and submit to grand jury testimony if asked. The FBI interviewed at least six accused priests, court files show.
But as McSwain’s tenure likely nears its end with President-elect Joe Biden set to take office next month, there’s no sign that any sweeping church indictment is afoot. So far, the case has yielded a single arrest: an 82-year-old defrocked priest, Robert Brennan, charged with lying to FBI agents who showed up at his door.
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