D.C. attorney general launches investigation into Catholic Church

Washington, D.C., Attorney General Karl Racine announced Tuesday he has launched a civil investigation into ...

Posted: Nov 13, 2018 2:09 PM
Updated: Nov 13, 2018 2:09 PM

Washington, D.C., Attorney General Karl Racine announced Tuesday he has launched a civil investigation into whether the Archdiocese of Washington violated the law by covering up the sexual abuse of minors.

"While we generally don't talk publicly about our confidential enforcement activity, I can report that our office has launched a civil investigation into whether the Archdiocese -- which is a nonprofit institution -- violated the District's Nonprofit Act by potentially covering up allegations of sexual abuse of minors," Racine said in a statement provided to CNN by a representative.

Belief, religion and spirituality

Catholics and catholicism

Christianity

Investigations

Law and legal system

Religious groups

Society

Catholic Church sexual abuse

Child abuse

Child sexual abuse

Crime, law enforcement and corrections

Crimes against persons

Criminal offenses

Karl Racine

Political Figures - US

Sex crimes

Sexual assault

Sexual misconduct

Donald Wuerl

Misc people

Religious leaders and clergy

"According to the law, nonprofits are required to work for a public purpose; if they are in fact covering up child sex abuse, that is clearly not in the public interest."

Racine also announced a new portal for victims of clergy abuse in the district to report their abuse to his office.

While the attorney general in Washington does not have jurisdiction over most criminal matters except for some misdemeanors, Racine can investigate potential civil violations. Racine could investigate, for example, whether the Archdiocese of Washington used donations or other funds to cover up the abuse of children, said Rob Marus, a spokesman for Racine.

Racine also has jurisdiction to enforce local laws requiring entities to report the abuse of children, the spokesman added. In Washington, clergy are not considered "mandated" reporters of abuse, but Catholic school teachers and other school employees are, Marus said.

Separately, the US Attorney for the District of Columbia, which has jurisdiction over sex crimes in the district, launched its own hotline for survivors of sexual abuse by clergy.

"All reports will be reviewed and a team of experienced criminal investigators, prosecutors, and victim advocates from the Superior Court Division of the US Attorney's Office will determine whether any criminal charges can be brought or victim services provided," the US Attorney's office said Monday.

In a statement, the Archdiocese of Washington said its attorneys met with Racine and gave him copies of the annual reports on abuse allegations that it has published every year since 2003.

"We had a very productive exchange with the attorney general and his staff," said Kim Viti Fiorentino, chancellor and general counsel for the Archdiocese of Washington.

"We explained that the problem of sexual abuse of minors in the archdiocese was a historical one -- that to our knowledge there had not been an incident of abuse of a minor by an archdiocesan clergy member for almost 20 years."

Fiorentino added that "there is not now, and has not been for decades, any problem of abuse of minors by clergy of the Archdiocese of Washington. Zero tolerance has been mandated in this archdiocese and zero abuse is the result."

But the archdiocese had refused to release a list of clergy credibly accused of abusing minors until last week, just days after Pope Francis accepted the resignation of Cardinal Donald Wuerl, who has been accused of mishandling cases of clergy misconduct while he was a bishop in Pittsburgh.

The Pope, who acknowledged Wuerl's "mistakes" but praised his "nobility" in stepping down, will let the cardinal continue to run the archdiocese until a successor is found.

Wuerl's predecessor in Washington, Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, was demoted by the Pope this summer and ordered to remain sequestered while the Vatican hears his appeal on charges that he sexually abused an altar boy.

McCarrick has maintained his innocence, and now lives in a monastery in Kansas. He is also facing accusations that he sexually abused seminarians in New Jersey before he became archbishop of Washington.

Racine's investigation comes just days after reports that federal prosecutors in Pennsylvania have issued subpoenas to the state's eight Catholic dioceses to probe for potential crimes. While the scope of that investigation is still unclear, groups such as the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, which first asked the Justice Department to launch a probe in 2003, called it unprecedented.

Separately, the Diocese of Buffalo, New York, also received a subpoena regarding clergy sexual abuse in late May, according to a source familiar with the subpoena.

In September, the New York attorney general issued civil subpoenas for all eight Catholic dioceses in the state as part of a civil investigation into how the church reviewed and potentially covered up allegations of the sexual abuse of minors, according to a source close to the investigation.

New Jersey's attorney general has also said his office would form a task force to investigate allegations of sexual abuse by clergy and any attempted cover-ups.

Attorneys general in Missouri and New Mexico said they are also investigating church files for evidence of abuse and cover-ups.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 30674

Reported Deaths: 1107
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds248039
DeSoto157216
Madison129634
Jones112049
Neshoba98571
Rankin91612
Lauderdale90879
Harrison88610
Forrest86042
Scott77015
Jackson61616
Copiah60216
Washington5789
Leake57519
Holmes55141
Lee54718
Wayne54213
Oktibbeha54126
Warren51118
Yazoo5056
Leflore48651
Lowndes48312
Grenada4795
Lamar4567
Lincoln45434
Pike43112
Monroe39930
Lafayette3894
Sunflower3737
Attala35923
Covington3475
Panola3456
Newton3399
Bolivar33414
Adams31018
Simpson3103
Pontotoc2836
Tate27810
Chickasaw27618
Marion27511
Claiborne27010
Jasper2616
Noxubee2618
Winston2596
Pearl River25432
Clay24910
Marshall2263
Smith22011
Union2079
Clarke20624
Walthall2004
Coahoma1996
Kemper17814
Lawrence1741
Yalobusha1717
Carroll16411
Humphreys1479
Tallahatchie1364
Itawamba1358
Montgomery1312
Tippah13011
Calhoun1294
Hancock12613
Webster12510
Jefferson Davis1114
Prentiss1083
Jefferson1073
Greene1058
Tunica1003
Wilkinson949
Amite892
George863
Tishomingo781
Quitman760
Choctaw744
Alcorn682
Perry664
Stone641
Franklin452
Sharkey350
Benton340
Issaquena91
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 41362

Reported Deaths: 983
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson4944152
Montgomery4021103
Mobile4005134
Tuscaloosa222642
Marshall170210
Lee135937
Madison13597
Shelby122723
Morgan10715
Walker91424
Elmore90314
Franklin88914
Dallas8799
Baldwin8469
Etowah72713
DeKalb7075
Butler62428
Chambers62427
Tallapoosa58869
Autauga58312
Russell5450
Unassigned50323
Lauderdale4896
Limestone4810
Houston4794
Lowndes46721
Cullman4394
Pike4205
Colbert3916
Coffee3732
Bullock36810
St. Clair3662
Covington3547
Barbour3472
Escambia3376
Calhoun3325
Hale31021
Talladega3037
Marengo30211
Wilcox2908
Sumter28412
Dale2820
Clarke2736
Jackson2682
Winston2543
Chilton2392
Monroe2342
Blount2301
Pickens2276
Marion21913
Conecuh2047
Randolph2009
Choctaw19512
Bibb1871
Macon1859
Greene1838
Perry1701
Henry1323
Crenshaw1253
Lawrence1070
Washington1057
Cherokee857
Geneva790
Lamar751
Fayette681
Clay642
Coosa581
Cleburne361
Out of AL00
Tupelo
Clear
88° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 73°
Feels Like: 97°
Columbus
Clear
88° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 100°
Oxford
Clear
84° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 91°
Starkville
Clear
84° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 91°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather