Wisconsin attorney general investigating clergy abuse
Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul (D) has launched an investigation into reports of abuse by clergy and faith leaders in the state.
The Wisconsin Department of Justice said in a statement that it will conduct an “independent and thorough review” of sexual abuse claims committed by faith leaders in the state, regardless of when they occurred.
The department will provide survivors with confidential means to obtain support as well as ways for people to report what they know about sexual abuse and attempts to cover it up.
The agency is seeking information from survivors and advocates and will ask for documents from dioceses and religious orders in the state.
According to a local ABC affiliate, the investigation is beginning with the Catholic Church but will expand to other faiths.
“The people of Wisconsin, and especially victims, deserve an independent review of clergy and faith leader abuse,” Kaul said in a statement. “With this initiative, we are seeking to ensure that survivors of clergy and faith leader abuse have access to needed victim services, to help prevent future cases of sexual assault, and to get accountability to the extent possible.”
The Catholic Church is under constant scrutiny as media reports detail clergy leaving over decades-old abuse allegations.
After Kaul’s announcement, several dioceses issued public statements affirming their commitments to handling cases of sexual assault.
The Archdiocese of Milwaukee said in a statement that no institution “has done more to combat the evil of sexual abuse of a minor than the Catholic Church.”
“We know there have been mistakes made in how some cases were handled in the past, but today the Church has become a model of how this issue is addressed, including oversight, background checks, training, safe environment education and prevention, and outreach to abuse survivors,” it said.
The Diocese of Madison also issued a statement, saying it will “review the Attorney General’s upcoming request as soon as it is received.”
“The Diocese of Madison takes the issue of sexual abuse of minors very seriously and based on its own, ongoing initiative remains vigilantly committed to providing healing to any victims and their families, and to fostering trust based on its diocesan safe environment policies spanning two decades,” it said.
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