New York, New Jersey Launch Official Investigations Into Catholic Dioceses’ Handling of Child Sex Abuse

VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - MARCH 13:  A woman holds rosary beads while she prays and waits for smoke to emanate from the chimney on the roof of the Sistine Chapel which will indicate whether or not the College of Cardinals have elected a new Pope on March 13, 2013 in Vatican City, Vatican. Pope Benedict XVI's successor is being chosen by the College of Cardinals in Conclave in the Sistine Chapel. The 115 cardinal-electors, meeting in strict secrecy, will need to reach a two-thirds-plus-one vote majority to elect the 266th Pontiff.  (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN – MARCH 13: A woman holds rosary beads while she prays and waits for smoke to emanate from the chimney on the roof of the Sistine Chapel which will indicate whether or not the College of Cardinals have elected a new Pope on March 13, 2013 in Vatican City, Vatican. Pope Benedict XVI’s successor is being chosen by the College of Cardinals in Conclave in the Sistine Chapel. The 115 cardinal-electors, meeting in strict secrecy, will need to reach a two-thirds-plus-one vote majority to elect the 266th Pontiff. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

The New York attorney general issued subpoenas against the state’s Roman Catholic dioceses on Thursday as New Jersey announced a task force to investigate allegations of sexual abuse of minors by the clergy.

New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood subpoenaed the eight state dioceses as part of a civil investigation into how the church reviewed allegations of sexual abuse, a source familiar with the investigation said Thursday.

New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal, meanwhile, established a task force to probe cases of sexual abuse and any attempts by the church to cover them up.

Both offices cited a bombshell report produced by a Pennsylvania grand jury that concluded that about 300 priests in the state had sexually abused more than 1,000 children stretching back 70 years. The report, which was shared with the public only weeks ago, also found that church leadership in the state worked to cover up the horrific abuse.

“The Pennsylvania grand jury report shined a light on incredibly disturbing and depraved acts by Catholic clergy, assisted by a culture of secrecy and cover ups in the dioceses. Victims in New York deserve to be heard as well — and we are going to do everything in our power to bring them the justice they deserve,” Underwood said in a statement.

Underwood and Grewal announced separately on Thursday that they had established clergy abuse hotlines so victims can share their experiences with investigators.

“I was deeply troubled to read the allegations contained in last month’s Pennsylvania grand jury report,” Grewal said in a statement. “The report revealed that sexual assaults on children — and efforts to cover up such assaults — were far more widespread in Pennsylvania than we ever thought possible. We owe it to the people of New Jersey to find out whether the same thing happened here. If it did, we will take action against those responsible.”

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SOURCE: Matthew Johnson and Phil McCausland
NBC News