Feds put Catholic church across the nation on notice: Don't destroy any evidence of abuse

Category: Catholic Sexual Abuse | M Garabedian

The federal investigation into Catholic priest abuse now includes every diocese in the nation.

U.S. Attorney William McSwain has put every archdiocese, diocese and Catholic entity on notice to preserve and not destroy evidence of priest abuse or a cover-up.

An attorney for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops told the York Daily Record Friday the organization is complying with a request from the U.S. Department of Justice.

In a letter sent earlier this month, McSwain directed conference President Daniel DiNardo to notify all Catholic institutions to preserve documents in their current form and condition, “and not be destroyed, discarded, disposed of, deleted, or altered in any way.”

Part of the letter was published by a Philadelphia blogger on Friday. It shows the letter from McSwain’s office was sent Oct. 9, which is the same week Pennsylvania dioceses received federal subpoenas. It directs DiNardo to “immediately transmit copies of this preservation request” to all members and affiliates.

“We have transmitted the US Attorney’s letter at his request and in the spirit of cooperation with law enforcement,” Anthony R. Picarello, Jr., associate general secretary and general counsel for the bishops conference, told the York Daily Record on Friday evening.

Boston attorney Mitchell Garabedian, who has represented survivors of clergy sexual abuse for decades, said the letter is significant.

He said he knew of no other time that the entire Catholic church in America had been ordered to preserve such evidence.

“It’s a significant step in the process in that Cardinal DiNardo is being informed that he has to have evidence preserved, and accordingly the letter is meant to prevent the destruction of evidence,” Garabedian said. “If the evidence is destroyed after receipt of this letter, then there could be significant criminal action taken against the entity.”

Michele Mucellin, acting public affairs officer for the Eastern District of the U.S. Department of Justice, said she could not comment on the letter, and could not confirm or deny the existence of any investigation.

James Faluszczak, an abuse survivor and former priest who testified before the Pennsylvania grand jury, said he’s concerned some records may have already been destroyed or never recorded in the first place.

Faluszczak, who served as a priest from 1998-2016, told the grand jury a bishop asked him to investigate a lay teacher at a Catholic school and to withhold the evidence from a district attorney.

Last week, the Associated Press reported that federal investigators had opened an investigation into child sexual abuse by Roman Catholic clergy in Pennsylvania, using subpoenas to demand secret files and testimony from church leaders.

Victims’ advocates said the federal investigation launched in Pennsylvania is the first such probe ever by the U.S. Justice Department.

The federal investigation came about two months after a historic grand jury report found that 301 “predator priests” in Pennsylvania dioceses had molested more than 1,000 children since the 1940s. The grand jury report showed that the church leadership, including bishops, covered up the abuse.

News of the federal investigation of Pa. broke the day after Pennsylvania Senators failed to vote on a measure that could have allowed survivors of child sexual abuse, including those abused by Catholic clergy, the ability to sue their abusers. The state’s statute of limitations prevents survivors of child sexual abuse from suing their abuser if they haven’t taken action by the time they turn 30.

The grand jury made four recommendations:

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See the full, original post here: https://www.ydr.com/story/news/2018/10/26/catholic-priest-abuse-all-us-dioceses-now-included-federal-investigation/1779082002/

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