One of two Roman Catholic priests charged as a result of the damning Pennsylvania grand jury investigation admitted he sexually abused children, pleading guilty Wednesday to corruption of minors and child endangerment.
The Diocese of Erie has confirmed receiving a subpoena from the United States Department of Justice concerning the allegations of child sexual abuse inside the Roman Catholic Church in Pennsylvania.
The move by the Justice Department to launch an investigation, even one limited to a single state, marks a major escalation in the government's response to allegations that the church spent decades hiding the extent of the sexual abuse problem among its priests, and allowing pedophiles to continue to work and live in communities.
At the time, Mr. Shapiro said Pennsylvania could not pursue state charges because the statute of limitations had passed in many cases and he was able to prosecute only two priests.
"Survivors, parishioners and the public want to see proof that every diocese has taken sweeping, decisive and impactful action to make children safer", it said.
The Diocese of Philadelphia confirmed to CBS Philadelphia it had received a federal subpoena to produce certain documents.
The Department of Justice declined to comment, saying the agency generally does not confirm or deny the existence of investigations. Monday, Bishop Jaime Soto said that the sensitivity of the matter combined with the increased scrutiny towards the Catholic church required hiring an outside investigator as a more "prudent" course of action. He has demanded the church turn over files from any "Secret Archives", along with financial, personnel and treatment records.
The Rev. David Lee Poulson, 65, of Oil City, was arrested earlier this year during a grand jury probe that concluded hundreds of clergy in the state had sexually abused at least 1,000 children over seven decades.
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Church officials across the state - in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Scranton, Erie, Greensburg, Allentown and Harrisburg - said on Thursday they would co-operate or were working with Justice Department officials.
Four survivors of sexual abuse by priests filed a public nuisance and conspiracy lawsuit against every diocese in the state Thursday, asking a judge to order the release of all records related to every abusive priest in IL.
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 Archdiocese of Chicago said in a statement that while officials had not reviewed the lawsuit, the diocese has in recent years taken significant steps to address the issue, including posting the names of priests who have been credibly accused of child sexual abuse on its website. Many other priests are dead. "Typically, these type of matters are covered by the local county district attorney or the state attorney general".
The August report came after an 18-month-long investigation into the dioceses in Pennsylvania.
"Many hearts have been broken, particularly those of the victims and their loved ones", Persico said, promising to contact police with all reports of sexual misconduct and co-operate with any investigations. Cardinal Wuerl was not accused of sexual abuse himself.
Church leaders opposed the change, warning it would cripple their ability to fund Catholic charities and enrich lawyers. He was accused of helping to protect some child-molesting priests when he was bishop of Pittsburgh from 1988 to 2006.
Lynn became the first USA church official ever prosecuted for the alleged cover-up of child molestation by priests when he was arrested on child-endangerment charges.