Nebraska AG Subpoenas Hundreds of Parishes for Abuse Records

News: US News
by David Nussman  •  •  February 27, 2019   

Attorney general announced Tuesday subpoenas for over 400 Catholic parishes, schools

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LINCOLN, Neb. ( - The Nebraska attorney general is requiring more than 400 Catholic parishes and institutions to hand over documents related to sexual abuse.

The office of Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson issued subpoenas to Catholic parishes, schools and other entities, demanding documents related to allegations of Catholic clerical sex abuse.

In a press release on Tuesday, the Nebraska Department of Justice announced this move. It stated:

Today, the Nebraska Department of Justice, working alongside various law enforcement agencies, issued subpoenas to over 400 Catholic churches and institutions across Nebraska. The subpoenas request all records or information related to any child sexual assault or abuse that has occurred by those employed or associated with each church or institution, whether previously reported or not.

It continues, "The Nebraska Department of Justice has appreciated the voluntary cooperation demonstrated by the churches. However, the department believes that subpoenas are necessary in order to ensure all reports of impropriety have been submitted to the appropriate authorities."

"It is our goal," the press release reads, "that all reports of abuse are subject to complete law enforcement review and investigation as warranted."

This is the latest development in the Nebraska attorney general's ongoing investigation into Catholic clerical sex abuse allegations.

Local news reports on Tuesday's announcement included the responses of Nebraska's three Catholic dioceses to the news of the subpoenas.

The archdiocese of Omaha responded to news of the subpoenas in a statement, saying, "The Archdiocese of Omaha is aware of the subpoenas that have been issued to Nebraska Catholic schools and parishes. We are cooperating with the attorney general's office, and we are in communication with the attorney general about the timeline to respond and the scope of the subpoena."

In a statement on Tuesday, the diocese of Grand Island said, "While we don't believe subpoenas were necessary, we will continue to share information with the Nebraska Attorney General's Office to bring this investigation to a conclusion."

"The diocese is committed," the statement continued, "to the protection of children and safety of all, and to that end, has cooperated with the Nebraska Attorney's Office in a voluntary review of files."

Lastly, the Lincoln diocese noted in a media statement Tuesday, "The diocese has voluntarily cooperated with the investigation since it was announced last September, and pledged its ongoing support to stop criminal behavior by predators."

"The diocese of Lincoln is reviewing the subpoena it received today," it added.

This news comes just days after the Vatican wrapped up its sex abuse summit. Covering it from Rome, Church Militant's Michael Voris referred to the summit as a "relatively well-organized propaganda summit."

In August 2018, the Pennsylvania grand jury report was published. It featured sexual abuse allegations against 300 clergy and religious spanning six of Pennsylvania's eight dioceses.

Following the Pennsylvania grand jury report, attorneys general in states all over the country were interested in conducting similar sweeping investigations into allegations of Catholic clerical sex abuse and cover-ups by Church leaders.

The Nebraska attorney general was one of these, encouraging victims to come forward and asking Nebraska's three Catholic dioceses last summer to turn over evidence related to sexual abuse.

In late August — just weeks after the Pennsylvania grand jury report — news broke that Nebraska law enforcement officials had already spoken with three alleged male victims of clerical sex abuse.

Along with Nebraska, officials in many other states have talked about investigating the Catholic Church for clerical sex abuse allegations and cover-ups — states such as New York, Vermont, Maryland, Kentucky, Michigan and Minnesota.

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