Ogdensburg Diocese Subpoenaed In Clergy Abuse Investigation

Ogdensburg Diocese Subpoenaed In Clergy Abuse Investigation

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The Diocese of Ogdensburg confirms it has been subpoenaed by the Office of the New York State Attorney General as part of  an investigation into the handling of sex abuse allegations.

AG Barbara Underwood subpoenaed the diocese and the state's seven other Roman Catholic dioceses. A law enforcement source familiar with the investigation but not authorized to speak publicly told The Associated Press the subpoenas went out Thursday.

The subpoenas seek documents relating to abuse allegations, payments to victims or findings from internal church investigations. Church officials say they will cooperate.

The Diocese of Ogdensburg issued the following statement:

"We have, in fact, received a subpoena, and we look forward to cooperating with the Attorney General’s office. In 2002, the Diocese of Ogdensburg met the District Attorneys in the eight counties within our borders and agreed to inform them of all allegations of sexual abuse and to provide any information requested by them. Since that time, we have notified those District Attorneys of all abuse claims and have provided those District Attorneys information as requested related to any sexual abuse allegations.  It has consistently been our policy to cooperate with law enforcement, and we will continue with that policy. As a diocese, we remain focused on the safety of our youth and working with victims toward healing and reconciliation."

Underwood's office is pursuing a civil investigation into the church's response to abuse reports and has also reached out to local prosecutors authorized to convene grand juries or pursue criminal investigations.

The district attorneys in Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties said they have not yet been contacted by the AG's office.

"If the attorney general reaches out to us, we will certainly meet with the attorney general, cooperate however we can, see what evidence there is, if any on any case, and follow that evidence where it leads. If there's a viable prosecution, we certainly won't turn a blind eye to it," said St. Lawrence County DA Gary Pasqua.

7 News has also reached out to Lewis County's district attorney to see if her office has been contacted.  We'll update this story if we hear from her.

The subpoena announcement comes three weeks after a grand jury investigation found rampant sexual abuse of more than 1,000 children by about 300 priests in Pennsylvania.

More than a decade ago, the names were released of eight priests from the Diocese of Ogdensburg who had been accused of sexual offenses against minors.

As many as 15 other priests from the diocese, however, have been accused but gone unnamed. The diocese has said those names haven't been revealed in order to protect the privacy of the victims.

The AG's office also announced Thursday it launched a clergy abuse hotline and online complaint form through which victims and anyone with information can provide information. 

Victims and anyone with information about abuse can call the hotline at 1-800-771-7755 or file a complaint online at ag.ny.gov/Clergy Abuse. An investigator will review all allegations.

The AG said her office and law enforcement partners will seek to protect victims’ and witnesses’ identities.

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