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Missouri launches probe into Catholic Church sex abuse in St. Louis

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Josh Hawley
Missouri
Attorney General Josh Hawley announced the investigation on
August 23.

AP Photo/Jeff Roberson,
File


  • Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley announced
    the state was launching a probe of potential sexual abuse
    in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. Louis on
    Thursday. 
  • The probe initially covers only the Archdiocese of St.
    Louis, one of five Roman Catholic dioceses in the
    state.
  • Hawley said the archdiocese is fully cooperating and he
    has asked the bishops of the four other dioceses to agree
    to cooperate with the probe.
  • Pennsylvania officials last week released the results
    of a grand jury probe that found at least 1,000 people had been
    sexually abused by 300 clergymen during the past 70
    years.

Missouri is launching a probe of potential sexual abuse in the
Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. Louis, state Attorney General
Josh Hawley said on Thursday, following last week’s
Pennsylvania report finding widespread clergy sex abuse in the
state
.

Hawley said his office does not have the power to force
institutions to cooperate with criminal investigations but was
able to launch the probe after the archdiocese agreed to help.

“They say they want to cooperate fully and I’m confident
they will,” Hawley told reporters on a conference call.

The probe initially covers only the Archdiocese of St. Louis, one
of five Roman Catholic dioceses in the state, Hawley said.

He asked the bishops of the four other dioceses to agree to
cooperate with the probe.

Hawley said that his office will gather evidence from the church,
as well as from victims, their families and people not associated
with the archdiocese.

“That report will also include any charging recommendations based
on the evidence we discover in our investigation,” Hawley said.

The investigation will be led by Christine Krug, the head of the
attorney general’s public safety division and a longtime sex
crimes prosecutor, according to the
Kansas City Star
.

“I am firmly of the view that full transparency benefits not only
the public but also the church and most importantly, it will help
us expose and address potential wrongdoing and protect the
vulnerable from abuse,” Hawley said.

He added: “I would invite the state’s other dioceses to cooperate
similarly with this office’s investigation so that our report can
be truly comprehensive and statewide.”

Pennsylvania officials last week released the results of a
two-year grand jury probe that found evidence that at least 1,000
people, mostly children, had been sexually abused by some 300
clergymen in the state during the past 70 years.


The report covers 70 years of alleged abuse
and the lengths
that church officials went to cover up the accusations, using
what investigators described in the report as a “a playbook for
concealing the truth.”

The report said the numbers of actual victims and abusers could
be much higher.

Similar reports have emerged in Europe, Australia and Chile,
prompting lawsuits and investigations, sending dioceses into
bankruptcy and undercutting the moral authority of the leadership
of the Catholic Church, which has some 1.2 billion members around
the world.

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