The U.S. Justice Department has opened an investigation of child sexual abuse inside the Roman Catholic Church in Pennsylvania.
That’s according to two people familiar with the probe, who say federal prosecutors have served subpoenas on dioceses across the state that seek a trove of sensitive files and testimony from church leaders.
More here. Story is developing. Stay tuned.
UPDATE: More details late today, from The New York Times:
The inquiry is believed to be the first statewide investigation by the federal government of the church’s sex abuse problems. And it comes two months after the Pennsylvania attorney general’s office released an explosive grand jury report charging that bishops and other church leaders had covered up the abuse of more than 1,000 people over a period of more than 70 years.
Seven of the eight dioceses in the state, Philadelphia, Erie, Harrisburg, Scranton, Pittsburgh, Greensburg and Allentown all said they had received federal grand jury subpoenas from the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania requesting documents. The eighth, Altoona-Johnstown, did not respond to a request for comment.
“This subpoena is no surprise considering the horrific misconduct detailed in the statewide grand jury report,” said the Diocese of Greensburg in a statement. “Survivors, parishioners and the public want to see proof that every diocese has taken sweeping, decisive and impactful action to make children safer.”
News of the subpoenas threatened to deepen the crisis faced by the Catholic Church as it struggles through a new chapter of the sex abuse scandal, which emerged out of Boston more than 15 years ago. The Pennsylvania report followed the resignation of Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, the former archbishop of Washington, who is accused of sexually abusing seminarians and minors.