Justice Department issues subpoenas to seven Pennsylvania dioceses over sex abuse allegations

The Department of Justice has subpoenaed at least three Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania as part of an investigation into abuse by priests

The Department of Justice has subpoenaed at least three Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania as part of an investigation into abuse by priests

The US Department of Justice is investigating the Roman Catholic Church in the state of Pennsylvania over alleged child sex abuse, US media say.

The investigation was sparked after a state grand jury issued a scathing report in August finding that more than 300 Catholic priests in Pennsylvania had sexually abused children over seven decades, protected by a hierarchy of church leaders who covered it up. "The diocese has worked to be open and transparent regarding the issue of child sexual abuse and its past".

Tobias, the law professor who specializes in federal courts, said whatever comes of the investigation, the issuing of the subpoenas has likely sent a jolt across the country. William Lynn, former archdiocesan vicar for clergy.

On Wednesday night, the state Senate adjourned without voting on a measure, prompted by the grand jury report, that would create a brief window for victims of childhood sexual abuse to sue their abusers, and institutions that may have shielded them, even after the civil statute of limitations had passed.

The Department of Justice declined to comment, saying the agency generally does not confirm or deny the existence of investigations.

The Catholic Diocese of Sacramento said this week it will postpone releasing names of priests accused of sexual abuse until an independent auditor can review thousands of personnel records.

"The Archdiocese will cooperate with the United States Department of Justice in this matter", the office said.

Poulson assaulted one of the boys more than 20 times in church rectories, forcing the child to give him confessionals about the abuse to "seek forgiveness for being sexually assaulted", Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro said at a press conference.

"This subpoena is no surprise considering the horrific misconduct detailed in the statewide grand jury report", the Greensburg Diocese said in a statement.

Such crimes could include taking children across state lines for illegal purposes, sending sexual images or messages electronically or ordering anyone not to contact police.

The probe by the Pennsylvania attorney general produced an 800-page compendium of criminal sexual activity, including moving suspected pedophiles from parish to parish.

He also represents some priest accusers in the Buffalo Diocese, where a television station obtained church emails from June that show the diocese negotiated with federal prosecutors to limit the scope of the investigation to living priests, resulting in the surrender of what diocesan Chancellor Regina Murphy wrote was "a relatively small amount of documentation from 16 files".

A Church official said the scope of the investigation does not seem to include conspiracy or other institutional charges.

He added that a key goal of the suit is to force each diocese to make public the names of all priests, living and dead, accused of child molestation.

"The Diocese of Allentown is responding to an information request contained in a subpoena from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania", the diocese said in a written statement. The victims were 8 and 15 at the time the crimes occurred, according to authorities.

The Grand Jury recommended reforming the criminal and civil statutes of limitations on sexual abuse in Pennsylvania, among four recommendations.

Nearly all the cases in the eight dioceses are time-barred from prosecution and civil action under Pennsylvania's statutes of limitation.

The report led to the resignation last week of Cardinal Donald Wuerl as archbishop of Washington.

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