NEW YORK–Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York named a former federal judge and prosecutor on Sept. 20 to independently review how the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York has handled allegations of sexual abuse, after what Dolan said was a “summer of hell.”
Barbara Jones, who retired as a U.S. district judge in 2013, said she and a team of lawyers would have unfettered access to all materials as they reviewed sex-abuse claim policies and procedures in the country’s second-largest archdiocese.
“The cardinal has told me to leave no stone unturned and to provide him directly with the results of our work,” Jones, who is now in private practice, said at a news conference.
She recently served as a court-appointed special master to review items seized by federal agents in raids on the home and office of Michael Cohen, the former personal attorney for President Donald Trump.
The church in the United States, Chile, Australia, and Ireland is in the midst of a crisis over sexual abuse of minors.
“Many of our people and priests are calling it the ‘Summer of Hell’ for our Catholic family,” Dolan said at the news conference. He asked Jones to look for any gaps in the archdiocese’s policies for dealing with sex-abuse allegations.
In August, Pope Francis wrote a letter to all of the world’s some 1.2 billion Catholics asking each of them to help root out “this culture of death” and vowing there would be no more cover-ups.
In July, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of Washington resigned his position in church leadership after a review concluded that claims that he had sexually abused a 16-year-old boy were credible.
In August, Pennsylvania’s attorney general released a grand jury report that said 301 priests had sexually abused minors over the past 70 years. Earlier this month, New York’s attorney general issued civil subpoenas to all eight Catholic dioceses in the state as part of a sex abuse investigation.
By Peter Szekely