The Department of Justice Opens an Investigation in Pennsylvania
For immediate release, October 18 2018
The U.S. Department of Justice has opened a much-needed investigation into the clergy sex abuse crisis.
With today’s announcement, the Department of Justice has given hope to survivors and advocates across the country. Too often institutions are able to escape accountability through a mix of archaic laws like statutes of limitations, strong-armed agreements to silence survivors who have come forward, or by advancing a culture that keeps survivors fearful, ashamed, and afraid to tell others what had happened to them. Fortunately for survivors and others who value accountability, the Department of Justice is able to investigate despite Pennsylvania’s statute of limitations. This is certainly a welcome development.
SNAP has previously voiced the importance of a federal investigation and has called for investigations in 2003, in 2014, and as recently as two months ago. We know that thousands have suffered needlessly due to these sex crimes and cover-ups, and while we are glad that this investigation is finally underway, we cannot help but wonder how many children and vulnerable adults would have been spared had the investigation first occurred after the Boston Globe report in 2002.
This federal action should remind any attorneys general who have yet to begin investigations into church officials that even if state laws are inadequate and prevent prosecution of wrongdoers, a thorough probe and a public report can spur or enable others in law enforcement to take action. We encourage anyone who wants to get to the bottom of these abuse and cover-up scandals to reach out to attorneys general in their states and urge an independent investigation.
CONTACT: Becky Ianni, SNAP DC Leader (703-801-6044, firstname.lastname@example.org) Mike McDonnell, SNAP Philadelphia Leader (267-261-0578, email@example.com) Judy Jones, SNAP Midwest Leader (636-433-2511, firstname.lastname@example.org (Zach Hiner (517-974-9009, email@example.com)
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)
50 State AG Call for Grand Jury
Any investigation must be:
- independent of and separate from the church
- must have subpoena powers and ability to compel testimony under oath
Anything short of these criteria is a sham and whitewash.
In addition, write letters to the editor, make phone calls to politicians as they can apply pressure to keep them responsive to our demand. We need to make efforts to ensure that they follow up on what the state is doing to investigate these crimes.
The Attorneys General of forty states have inquired about the grand jury process in Pennsylvania. Let's get statewide investigations going in fifty states.
Note to Letter Writers
Use your own words and style of writing. Cut and paste from the templates as you wish. Include your experiences, whether as a survivor or as a member of the community. And relate your letter to the state you were abused in or state now living in.