The Erie Catholic Diocese is confirming that a subpoena has been issued from the Federal Department of Justice.
Earlier this week, the Associated Press reported that the Department of Justice is opening a federal investigation into priest abuse cases in Pennsylvania, starting with the Philadelphia Diocese.
In a brief statement, the Erie Diocese confirms that a subpoena has been received, but it did not say what the focus of the investigation was:
The Diocese of Erie confirms it has received a subpoena. Its counsel is in conversation with the Department of Justice. We will have no further comment at this time.
SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests released their own statement saying:
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.