New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood subpoenaed all eight Roman Catholic dioceses in the state in an effort to collect documents relating to abuse allegations, payments to victims, or findings from internal church investigations, The Associated Press first reported.
In New Jersey, Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said he’s forming a task force to investigate allegations of sexual abuse and coverup by members of the clergy. He appointed former Acting Essex County Prosecutor Robert Laurino to lead the task force, which Grewal says will have the power to issue subpoenas through a grand jury to compel testimony or demand documents.
The New York Attorney General’s Charities Bureau launched a civil investigation into how the dioceses and other nonprofit church entities potentially covered up allegations of sexual abuse of minors.
The attorney general in New York doesn’t have the power to convene a grand jury to investigate these types of crimes, so that office is partnering with district attorneys across the state. Underwood warned that not all crimes will be prosecutable, due to the statute of limitations, but she asked victims to report their cases anyway.
Both attorneys general said their investigations were precipitated by a Pennsylvania grand jury report released in July that detailed decades of abuse of more than 1,000 children by hundreds of priests.
Four of the priests in the report were allegedly involved in ministries in New Jersey, and several were listed as having spent time in New York.
“The report revealed that sexual assaults on children–and efforts to cover up such assaults–were far more widespread in Pennsylvania than we ever thought possible,” Grewal said in a statement. “We owe it to the people of New Jersey to find out whether the same thing happened here.”
New Jersey also plans to review the mechanism it set up with the state’s five dioceses in 2002, in conjunction with the attorney general’s office and several county prosecutors’ offices, that mandated policies and procedures to report potential cases of sexual abuse within their churches to law enforcement.
New York has created an online form where victims can submit a report, and both states have set up hotlines for victims.
New York: 800-771-7755
New Jersey: 855-363-6548