New Jersey, New York open investigations into sex abuse at Catholic dioceses

In this Aug. 28, 2018 photo, turkey vultures rest on the cross atop the Cathedral of The Risen Christ adjacent to the Catholic Chancery in Lincoln, Neb. The Diocese of Lincoln housed at the complex, that refused for years to participate in annual sex abuse audits is facing a potential criminal investigation and criticism that it mishandled priests who were accused of sexual assault and morally questionable behavior. (Nati Harnik/AP Photo)

In this Aug. 28, 2018 photo, turkey vultures rest on the cross atop the Cathedral of The Risen Christ adjacent to the Catholic Chancery in Lincoln, Neb. The Diocese of Lincoln housed at the complex, that refused for years to participate in annual sex abuse audits is facing a potential criminal investigation and criticism that it mishandled priests who were accused of sexual assault and morally questionable behavior. (Nati Harnik/AP Photo)

Updated: 3:30 p.m.

New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal is opening an investigation into allegations of clergy sex abuse across the state.

The announcement comes just weeks after Pennsylvania released the results of its investigation. A grand jury there found that 301 priests had abused more than 1,000 victims for decades in the commonwealth.

Grewal says he was disturbed to read the Pennsylvania grand jury report and says New Jerseyans deserve to know if the same things happened here.

“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. We owe it to the people of New Jersey to find out whether the same thing happened here. If it did, we will take action against those responsible,” he said.

Grewal is appointing a former Essex County prosecutor to head up the task force.

The AG’s office is also setting up a hotline to identify potential victims of clergy sex abuse.

The news comes as the Attorney General of New York announced that her office would also be investigating alleged sexual abuse in the Catholic Church.

New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood today subpoenaed all eight Roman Catholic dioceses in the state as part of a broadening civil investigation into the handling of sex abuse allegations by church leaders.

The subpoenas seek documents relating to abuse allegations, payments to victims or findings from internal church investigations, according to a law enforcement source familiar with the investigation but not authorized to speak publicly.

Church leaders vowed to work with Underwood’s civil investigation — and any potential criminal investigations to come.

“Our diocese will cooperate with any investigation initiated by the New York Attorney General or district attorney,” said George Richert, spokesman for the Buffalo diocese.

The subpoenas were issued to the Archdiocese of New York in New York City as well as the dioceses of Albany, Brooklyn, Rochester, Syracuse, Buffalo, Ogdensburg and Rockville Center.

Underwood’s office is pursuing a civil investigation into the church’s response to abuse reports and has also reached out to local prosecutors, who are authorized to convene grand juries or pursue criminal investigations.


To help identify potential victims, a New Jersey hotline will be staffed by trained professionals and operate on a 24/7 basis. The toll-free number is 855-363-6548.

In New York, a hotline and confidential online complaint form have been set set up: call 1-800-771-7755 or online at ag.ny.gov/ClergyAbuse .

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