Friday, March 1, 2024

The state is cracking down on alleged sexual abuse by Catholic priests, and there’s now a reporting hotline

Virginia Attorney General Mark R. Herring on Wednesday launched the Virginia Clergy Abuse Hotline and as part of an ongoing investigation into whether criminal sexual abuse of children may have occurred in the state’s Catholic dioceses, and whether leadership in the dioceses may have covered up or abetted any such crimes.

The hotline and online reporting form are being launched in the wake of the Pennsylvania grand jury report that documented decades of sexual abuse and cover-up by Catholic clergy in Pennsylvania, according to the AG’s office.

“Like so many Americans, I read the grand jury report on clergy abuse in the Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania, and I felt sick. It made me sick to see the extent of the damage done, the efforts to cover it up, and the complicity and enabling that went on by powerful people who should have known better and should have done more to protect vulnerable children,” Herring said. “We shouldn’t assume the behavior and the problems are limited just to Pennsylvania or to one diocese. If there has been abuse or cover-up in Virginia like there was in Pennsylvania I want to know about it, I want to root it out, and I want to help survivors get justice and get on a path to healing.”

The Virginia Clergy Abuse Hotline and will be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to receive reports of abuse by clergy or faith leaders.

The toll-free hotline (833-454-9064) will allow for anonymous reporting and will be staffed by Virginia State Police investigators during regular business hours, according to the AG’s office.

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