By JD Flynn, CNA
The Diocese of Pittsburgh has received about 50 new allegations of abuse, and a state abuse hotline has received more than 500 calls after the Aug. 14 release a Pennsylvania grand jury report detailing an investigation of sexual abuse in six dioceses, including Pittsburgh.
All of the allegations reported to the diocese “are from prior to 1990 and go back as far as the 1940s,” according to diocesan spokesman Rev. Nicholas Vaskov.
“We are taking all of them seriously and following our regular process for responding to them.”
The allegations to the diocese came through an abuse hotline and by e-mail the Pittsburgh Post- Gazette reported. The diocese said they came from “people who had not previously contacted us.”
Diocesan policy and canon law require that allegations be reported to law enforcement, and that priests currently in ministry be removed as allegations are investigated.
A hotline for reporting sexual abuse established by Pennsylvania’s attorney general has received 544 calls since Aug. 14, the attorney general’s office told CNA.
“Office of Attorney General agents are responding to every call, listening to each caller, recording facts, and then decisions are being made on where further investigations are appropriate,” said attorney general spokesman Joe Grace.
Grace told CNA that “a sizable number of calls concern allegations of sexual abuse by clergy and priests,” but did not specify whether allegations had also been made of abuse in other contexts.
He added that Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro’s office “investigates and prosecutes child sexual abuse and its cover up wherever we find it.”
“Since taking office in 2017, Attorney General Shapiro and his team have charged a police chief with child predator offenses, a deputy county coroner with sex offenses, a group of prison guards in Lackawanna County with abusing female inmates, and other similar cases,” he added.