New probe into sexual abuse by clergy in US
District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine said yesterday that his office has launched an investigation into sexual abuse by Catholic clergy in the Archdiocese of Washington.
It is the latest in a string of state-level law enforcement offices now probing the Catholic Church's handling of abuse complaints.
The investigation will bring scrutiny to Catholic leaders who have come under intense criticism in recent months.
Washington's archbishop, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, resigned this month amid uproar over a Pennsylvania grand jury report that depicted systemic abuse across the state's Catholic Church, including in Pittsburgh, where he had previously been a bishop.
His predecessor, former cardinal Theodore McCarrick, was removed from ministry in June following allegations that he had sexually abused a teenager decades ago while serving as a priest in New York.
Mr Racine has limited power to prosecute crimes in the District of Columbia, where felony cases are handled by the US attorney's office. However, he is opening the investigation under his authority to enforce a Washington law governing non-profit groups, as well as a law on the mandated reporting of sexual abuse.
"According to the law, non-profits are required to work for a public purpose," Mr Racine said. "If they are in fact covering up child sex abuse, that is clearly not in the public interest." (© The Washington Post)