Federal government launches investigation into Pennsylvania dioceses

Federal authorities launch probe into Pa. Catholic church

US Justice Department Investigating Catholic Church in Pennsylvania

The grand jury's report, made public in August, has roiled the Catholic Church and prompted calls for Pennsylvania state legislation to allow people to file civil lawsuits over child sexual abuse allegations that would otherwise be too old to pursue.

The investigation was sparked after a state grand jury issued a scathing report in August finding that more than 300 Catholic priests in Pennsylvania had sexually abused children over seven decades, protected by a hierarchy of church leaders who covered it up.

Six of the state's eight Roman Catholic dioceses - Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Scranton, Erie, Allentown and Harrisburg - acknowledged receiving subpoenas and said they would cooperate or were working with Justice Department officials.

The report accused 301 priests in Pennsylvania of sexually abusing more than 1,000 children over 70 years.

"It's groundbreaking if we're going to see one of the U.S. attorneys pursuing the Catholic cases", said Marci Hamilton, a University of Pennsylvania professor and chief executive of Child USA, a nonprofit think-tank focused on preventing child abuse.

The two people are not authorized to discuss the investigation and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity. Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro concluded that no state charges could be filed because of legal time limits.

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia confirmed to CBS3 that it has also received a federal subpoena to produce certain documents. You're investing resources with potentially no return.

"Priests were raping little boys and girls, and the men of God who were responsible for them not only did nothing". Many individuals had been molested and bullied for years by church leaders who were treated like demigods in their communities, investigators found, with many victims disbelieved or, eventually, quietly paid off, tearing families apart, while offender priests were often shuffled to other churches or even other countries, where they continued their predation. Many other priests are dead.

The report led to the resignation last week of Cardinal Donald Wuerl as archbishop of Washington. Many accused priests have already died.

The almost 900-page Pennsylvania grand jury report found that church leaders had engaged in a systematic cover-up by shuffling accused priests around to different parishes and in some cases working to prevent police investigations. The cutoff for filing civil claims is at age 30.

Poulson was assigned to various parishes during his tenure as a priest in the Diocese of Erie. It found that church leaders systematically hid evidence of wrongdoing. Lawmakers ended the session Wednesday without taking action.

Peter Isely, who was abused and is a spokesman for Ending Clergy Abuse, has been pushing for federal investigation for 15 years.

In 2011, the Philadelphia district attorney's office brought a landmark cover-up case against Monsignor William Lynn, a longtime aide to two Philadelphia cardinals. The case illustrated how hard it can be to make such charges stick. A jury convicted him in 2012. He is awaiting a third trial.

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