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D.C. attorney general opens Catholic Church investigation

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Cardinal Archbishop Donald Wuerl, right, takes his place on the Speaker's Balcony followed closely by Rep. Nancy Pelosi(D-CA). They are being joined by Pope Francis along with House and Senate leadership as well as local clergy gather on the balcony of the Speaker of the House after the Pope delivered an address to a joint session of Congress on Sept, 24, 2015 in Washington, D.C. Pool Photo by Bill O'Leary/UPI

By Clyde Hughes, UPI

The Washington, D.C., attorney general announced Tuesday that his office is opening up an investigation into sexual abuse claims made against Catholic clergy in the Archdiocese of Washington.

Karl A. Racine made the announcement and posted a website where alleged victims can file complaints.

"The Office of the Attorney General has launched a civil investigation into whether the Archdiocese - which is a nonprofit institution - violated the district's Nonprofit Act by potentially covering up allegations of sexual abuse of minors," the attorney general's website stated.

"OAG also has the authority to bring criminal charges against mandated reporters who fail to report instances of abuse or neglect under the district's mandated reporting law," the statement continued.

The investigation comes on the heels of Cardinal Donald Wuerl announcing his resignation as Washington's archbishop after he was connected with a Pennsylvania grand jury report that alleged systemic abuse across Catholic dioceses in the state, the Washington Post reported.

Racine told the Post that he was prompted to open an investigation after examining the "withering set of facts" in the Pennsylvania grand jury report.

He added, though, that the investigation would only look at alleged violations of the district's laws on mandated reporting of child sexual abuse that fall under the measure's three-year statute of limitations.

"Any not-for-profit or charity that is using its charter to violate the law or conceal violations of the law could in fact be violating its not-for-profit charter," Racine said in the Post report.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported the Pennsylvania grand jury report criticized Wuerl's decision to permit re-assignments in the 1990s for the late Rev. Ernest Paone, who was accused of child molestation. Wuerl reportedly allowed him to continue serving as the evidence against Paone grew.

The grand jury report stated that Wuerl presided over a settlement with two brothers who were abuse victims of a different priest, Richard Zula, that prevented them from discussing the terms of their deal.

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U.S. - U.S. Daily News: D.C. attorney general opens Catholic Church investigation
D.C. attorney general opens Catholic Church investigation
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U.S. - U.S. Daily News
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