The New York Attorney General subpoenaed all eight of the state’s Roman Catholic dioceses Thursday, CNN reports, as the office launches an investigation into their efforts to cover up allegations of the sexual abuse of children. The move comes just weeks after a Pennsylvania Grand Jury report stated more than 1,000 children were abused by more than 300 priests in recent decades.
“The Pennsylvania grand jury report shined a light on incredibly disturbing and depraved acts by Catholic clergy, assisted by a culture of secrecy and cover ups in the dioceses,” said New York Attorney General Barbara D. Underwood in a statement. “Victims in New York deserve to be heard as well—and we are going to do everything in our power to bring them the justice they deserve.”
The civil investigation is being led by the office’s Charities Bureau, which focuses on nonprofit institutions. The dioceses and related church entities in question are within this umbrella.
“We look forward to receiving the subpoena and working with the attorney general,” Joseph Zwilling, the New York archdiocese’s director of communications, told CNN in a statement. “Since 2002, the archdiocese has shared with its 10 District Attorneys all information they have sought concerning allegations of sexual abuse of minors, and has established excellent working relationships with each of them.”
The AG’s office also created a clergy abuse hotline and an online complaint form for victims to provide information for the investigation. Underwood encouraged any victim of abuse by Catholic clergy to call or submit a form, even if their case may now be outside the statute of limitations.
“All victim information will be helpful to understanding and reforming the institutional approach of the Church, regardless of whether an individual case can be prosecuted,” reads the office statement.