On the Importance of Hotlines and Public Updates for Clergy Abuse Investigations

As the new year continues to roll on, a report out of Florida has served as an example for other attorneys general around the country who have been investigating cases of clergy abuse.

Without public updates from the attorney general or their office, most people will forget that there is an investigation is ongoing. Similarly, absent an update on their tips, survivors and witnesses will not be confident that reaching out and making a report has had any meaning. This is why we believe it is important that attorneys general and other state investigators continue to advertise their hotline information and release updates to the public on the status of any investigation.

A good example of how this has been done effectively is in Michigan where A.G. Dana Nessel has consistently shared details about arrests that have been made through the course of her investigation and has used every press interview as an opportunity to remind people about her hotline and reporting form. The more that individuals hear from investigators, the more likely they will be to make their own reports and share their experiences with abuse.

Following the release of the 2018 grand jury report in Pennsylvania, A.G. Josh Shapiro’s office received more than a 1000 additional reports and tips on his hotline. To us, this is a reminder that many survivors who have suffered in silence can be encouraged to come forward when they see real progress being made and are confident that the office and person they are reporting to will take their information seriously.

We hope that the 20+ other attorneys general around the United States who have announced investigations will take the time this January to update the public on their status, inform survivors, witnesses, and whistleblowers about their hotline, and pull out the stops in their efforts to end cases of institutional sexual abuse.

CONTACT: Zach Hiner, Executive Director ([email protected], 517-974-9009)

(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)

SNAP Network is a GuideStar Gold Participant