Federal prosecutors launch hotline for survivors of sexual abuse by clergy

Federal prosecutors launch hotline for survivors of sexual abuse by clergy
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The District of Columbia U.S. Attorney's Office Victim Witness Assistance Unit and its D.C. Superior Court Division's Sex Offense and Domestic Violence Section are launching a hotline and email for survivors of child sexual abuse by clergy to report the crimes.

U.S. Attorney Jessie Liu on Monday announced that victims or people with knowledge of incidents involving sexual abuse by clergy can contact the newly formed Clergy Abuse Reporting Line at 202-252-7008 or email USADC.ReportClergyAbuse@usdog.gov.

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A group of criminal investigators, prosecutors and victim advocates from the U.S. Attorney's Office will review any information provided and decide if the subject can be given victim services or criminal charges can be issued. 

The victim advocates involved in the process can provide support and guidance to victims who report an incident.

The announcement comes two weeks after Pope Francis accepted the resignation of D.C. Cardinal Donald Wuerl over his role in the cover-up of two sexual abuse scandals.

Wuerl had been under pressure to resign due to his conduct while bishop of Pittsburgh, as well as allegations from Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano that Wuerl covered up sexual abuse accusations against Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the former archbishop of D.C.

"Cardinal Wuerl, well aware of the continuous abuses committed by Cardinal McCarrick and the sanctions imposed on him by Pope Benedict, transgressing the pope’s order, also allowed him to reside at a seminary in Washington, D.C.," Vigano wrote in a letter last month. "In doing so, he put other seminarians at risk." 

McCarrick was removed from public ministry over the summer when church investigators determined that allegations he had sexually abused a minor were credible.

McCarrick has denied all accusations against him.

Vigano has also accused Francis of covering for McCarrick. 

A 900-page report released by a Pennsylvania grand jury in August also detailed sexual abuse by priests that occurred dioceses Wuerl served over while bishop of Pittsburgh.

A Washington Post investigation into Wuerl's conduct found he removed abusers from active ministry in multiple cases, but some priests continued to abuse congregation members in other roles.