The Attorney General of the state of New York Barbara Underwood has subpoenaed all Roman Catholic dioceses in the state as part of a civil investigation into the accusations of sex abuse and cover-ups by church leaders, requesting documents and testimony.
The subpoenas were issued to the 8 dioceses in the New York, including the Archdiocese of New York, and the dioceses of Albany, Brooklyn, Rochester, Syracuse, Buffalo, Ogdensburg and Rockville Center.
“The Pennsylvania grand jury report shined a light on incredibly disturbing and depraved acts by Catholic clergy, assisted by a culture of secrecy and cover-ups in the dioceses,” Underwood said in a statement announcing the hotline. “Victims in New York deserve to be heard as well – and we are going to do everything in our power to bring them the justice they deserve.
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.
The Bishop of Albany, Most Rev. Edward Scharfenberger, said on Thursday that he had pre-emptively asked Albany’s district attorney to review the diocese’s records of handling sexual abuse cases. In a letter to parishioners, Bishop Scharfenberger said his decision to contact law enforcement “is necessary and ultimately will result in much good, but [is] one that is likely to be difficult and incredibly challenging for us for the foreseeable future.”
Archdiocese of New York spokesman Joseph Zwilling said that the archdiocese has not seen the subpoena but is “ready and eager” to comply with a civil investigation.
As was the case in Pennsylvania, most of the allegations in New York date back decades, and due to the statute of limitations on sex crimes, and therefore cannot lead to criminal prosecutions. Underwood’s office advised that any victims who report abuse in New York are also likely to find that the crimes are no longer prosecutable under state law.
In the Pennsylvania report, all but two of the accusations happened before 2002 when the Church instituted sweeping changes to address sexual abuse by clergy.
According to various reports, other states are planning similar actions, including Missouri, Ohio, New Jersey, New Mexico, Kentucky, Nebraska, and others.