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.

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