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Albany Diocese Asks DA To Investigate Sexual Abuse Cases

The Diocese of Albany's coat of arms
Facebook: Diocese of Albany
The Diocese of Albany's coat of arms

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany is asking the Albany County District Attorney to investigate how the church has handled sexual abuse cases. 

Bishop Edward Scharfenberger in a statementsays the decision comes after speaking with abuse survivors, parishioners and clergy. The bishop says too often the onus was on victims to bring cases forward and demand investigations – a situation that needs to be reversed.

"Rest assured, since the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People in 2002, when the impact and depth of the sex abuse scandal began to emerge, things have vastly improved," the statement reads. "Bishops around the country have been cooperating with law enforcement whenever and wherever allegations surface. Wherever the provisions of the Charter were put into practice, the number of new abuse cases thankfully has been diminishing significantly. The protocols in place for reporting to civil authorities, background checks, safe environment training, and more have made the Church of today one of the safest places for children. However, we know that prior to 2002 that was not always the case, and, as we are learning through revelations in other dioceses, true healing cannot occur until the full truth has been told, until the light hits every dark corner and exposes whatever evil remains hidden."

“My office is in receipt of the offer from Albany Bishop Edward Sharfenberger to review the records of the Albany Diocese," said Albany County District Attorney David Soares in a statement Thursday. "We remain cautiously optimistic about the level of access to be granted and we will be meeting with officials from the diocese to discuss further steps in the process.  This offer is certainly a step in the right direction towards a full accounting of alleged misconduct dating back many years and we welcome the opportunity to review every record that will allow for a transparent investigation."

“I continue to encourage District Attorneys in all counties to work with the Attorney General’s Office to investigate allegations of sexual abuse in the Catholic Diocese," said Soares, who is also the District Attorneys Association of New York President. "Past victims and current victims deserve to have their complaints aggressively investigated and those who have committed these horrific crimes must be held accountable. DAASNY is ready to collaborate with the Attorney General’s office to investigate complaints from victims and witnesses."

The move comes as churches across the world face continued criticism for their handling of sexual abuse claims against clergy.

Jim is WAMC’s Assistant News Director and hosts WAMC's flagship news programs: Midday Magazine, Northeast Report and Northeast Report Late Edition. Email: jlevulis@wamc.org
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