Iowa Opens Inquiry into Clergy Abuse, SNAP Urges Full Investigation
Iowa’s attorney general announced that he is opening an inquiry into the handling of clergy abuse cases by Catholic dioceses throughout his state.
We are grateful that Attorney General Tom Miller has followed in the footsteps of nineteen of his colleagues across the nation and has taken the first step towards a full investigation in Iowa. To best aid this inquiry, we hope that Mr. Miller’s office will open a confidential hotline staffed by victim advocates. We believe that opening lines of communication with survivors directly is the best way to encourage survivors or others who may have suspected abuse to come forward and share information with law enforcement authorities.
According to his announcement, Mr. Miller does not have the authority to conduct a statewide investigative grand jury. We hope that he will consider taking the step that some of his colleagues experiencing similar barriers have, such as Kentucky’s Andy Beshear, in asking the state legislature to pass a bill that will grant him this authority. As seen in Pennsylvania, grand jury investigations can be incredibly powerful in both uncovering the truth and encouraging participation from survivors and advocates. Despite the barriers in front of him, we applaud Mr. Miller for beginning the investigation anyway.
As of this writing, 18 states and Washington D.C. have taken begun investigations, and we hope that this action in Iowa will encourage attorneys general who have yet to open their own investigation to consider doing so. We believe that independent investigations by law enforcement are the best way to get to the bottom of the clergy abuse crisis, help survivors heal, and begin developing prevention strategies for the future.
(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)