Attorney general announces hotline for clergy abuse victims
BALTIMORE (AP) — Maryland’s top law enforcement official on Thursday announced a phone hotline for victims to report child sex abuse associated with a place of worship or school across the U.S. state, which is steeped in Catholicism like few others.
Attorney General Brian Frosh announced the creation of the hotline in Baltimore, home to the country’s first bishop, first cathedral, first diocese and first archdiocese. Unlike counterparts in other states that have formally announced probes into clergy sex abuse, Frosh’s office has only publicly called for victims of abusers linked to schools or places of worship to come forward.
But last year, Baltimore Archbishop William Lori wrote priests and deacons in the archdiocese advising them that Frosh’s office was delving into church records as part of an investigation into child sex abuse. He has pledged full cooperation throughout the process.
Zach Hiner, executive director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, praised the launch of the hotline, saying it gives abuse victims a “new avenue to come forward” and name their abusers.
But he said Frosh and Mar yland lawmakers needed to do more. Attorneys general have launched investigations in states including New Jersey, New York, Nebraska, Florida and Delaware, and in cities where local prosecutors are looking into individual priests. Frosh’s office does not confirm or deny the existence of any investigations.
“We hope that this hotline will not only lead to more sur vivors coming for ward, but also provide an impetus for the attorney general to open a full investigation and for Mar yland’s state legislature to begin reforming their statutes of limitations and opening civil windows for old cases to be brought forward,” Hiner said Thursday.
Liz McCloskey, part of a coalition of Catholics called the 5 Theses movement that has posted its proposals for reform on church doors in Baltimore and other cities, said “allowing the full scope of the sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church to come to light in every diocese in every state will make room for a measure of healing for its survivors.”
In this 2017 file photo Baltimore Archbishop William Lori leads a funeral Mass for Cardinal William Keeler at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen in Baltimore. Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh on Thursday, Jan. 10, announced a phone hotline for victims to report child sex abuse associated with a place of worship or school across the state.