Missouri AG launches probe into Catholic Church sexual abuse; Archbishop promises ‘unlimited access to the records

Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley addresses reporters in Jefferson City, Mo., 17. April 2018.

(Associated Press)

Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley announced Thursday an investigation into clergy sex crimes in the Roman Catholic Church.

The state’s top lawyer “unhindered” access to the records of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, Archbishop Robert Carlson said shortly after Hawley’s announcement.

“Everything we have, we will rotate,” said Carlson.

Word of the investigation came after several survivors of clergy sexual abuse, the office protested outside of Hawley ‘ s on Wednesday, calling for a country-wide probe. The survivors were reported to be encouraged by the results of the grand jury investigation in Pennsylvania, which resulted in the widespread mistreatment of more than 1000 children and 300 predator priests over the last 70 years, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Hawley’s announcement also came as the Republican running for a U.S. Senate seat against incumbent Democrat Claire McCaskill, the latest polls, the candidates show practically came to a standstill.

The extent of sexual abuse by priests in the state is unclear, as there are few convictions. But David Clohessy, 61, a longtime victims ‘ rights advocate in the state who was abused as a child, claims that more than 170 priests have been accused of in Missouri, in the last few decades.

He accused the state prosecutors, not yet “assertive or creative enough in the detection and prosecution of these perpetrators.”

“Would it be possible, a thorough and robust investigation of possible abuse by the clergy, the various dioceses to cooperate were willing to,”

– Missouri AG Josh Hawley

Hawley said that, while the prosecution lies with the local authorities, his office to investigate the crime, a report published, and to refer credible cases to the authorities.

“While my office does not have jurisdiction to pursue in the present time, criminal acts of this kind, as well as to determine to issue subpoenas, to conduct a thorough and robust investigation of possible abuse by clergy, it would be said possible, when the various dioceses to cooperate were willing to,” Hawley.

He added that the Archdiocese of St. Louis “opens to my office-your files and allow us to carry out a thorough, impartial assessment of potential abuse by clergy” and called for the state to cooperate with the other dioceses “also with this office, the investigation, so that our report can be a truly comprehensive and country-wide.”

“The majority of the people said:” Tell us what you have done and make sure it is not done by you, but by an independent Agency.'”

– Archbishop Robert Carlson

The Archdiocese opened its records to the state officials, according to a number of people called to invite the Archbishop to delete an independent review, the Church in the name.

“The majority of the people said:” Tell us what you have done and make sure it is not done by you, but by an independent Agency,” the Archbishop said in a press conference. “And it is my feeling that to do that the attorney General would be the appropriate place for this. Of course, it is at arm length’s. We are going to have to meet and see what will be your protocols, but we are pleased that the process in the beginning.”

But also other dioceses in Missouri, with the exception of the diocese of Jefferson City have yet to follow the suit and opening up their records to the office of the Prosecutor General.

The diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, said before the announcement, to report that, although it will cooperate “fully with law enforcement and are eager to do so, in order to prevent and eliminate hazards for children and vulnerable adults,” it will have its own independent Ombudsman, allegations of abuse to law enforcement authorities.

“The diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph is called for, and in collaboration with a review of the attorney General,” a diocesan spokesman told the Kansas City Star, according to Hawley ‘ s announcement.

The diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau to Springfield News-Leader, will also start their own independent investigation of abuse by their clergy. The diocese of Springfield said it is aware of nine inactive priests, the year prior to the reported credible allegations of abuse of a minor and a priest was recently on leave of absence for “sexual misconduct via the Internet.”

After the publication of the Pennsylvania reports, Pope Francis promised on Monday that “no effort must be spared” to the root of the clergy sex abuse and cover-up of the Church and asked for forgiveness for the pain suffered by the victims.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Lukas Mikelionis is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @Lukas mikelionis.

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