St. Louis, MO (KTRS) Twelve former clergy members could face prosecution in Missouri for alleged sex crimes.
That’s the recommendation from Attorney General Eric Schmitt after a report was released Friday following a lengthy investigation by his office.
“Since I took office, one of my top priorities has been conducting a thorough, exhaustive review of allegations of abuse by clergy members in the Roman Catholic Church. Today, as a result of that review, we are announcing that we will refer 12 cases of alleged abuse to local prosecutors for further investigation and possible prosecution – more referrals than any other state attorney general.” said Schmitt during the press conference.
Schmitt continued, “In cases in which local prosecutors should seek our assistance, we stand ready and willing to help. Additionally, we’ve provided concrete recommendations to the Catholic Church moving forward. I also want to thank the brave victims who have come forward to share their stories. To the victims: you didn’t deserve any of this. None of what happened to you was your fault. This report, our referrals for criminal prosecution, our aggressive and substantive suggestions for reform, will not change what happened in the past. But, they can change the trajectory of the future and ensure that this never happens again.”
“Missouri’s attorney general joins others across the country in investigating crimes that have long been kept secret in the Church,” said Donna B. Doucette, the executive director of Voice of the Faithful, an international organization that began in response to revelations of clergy sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of Boston in 2002. “The crimes of abusers do not diminish the many good works of other priests, but we decry the attitude of secrecy and the lack of accountability that has kept the Church hierarchy from resolving the scandal and holding those who have covered it up accountable.”
Meanwhile, St. Louis Archbishop Robert Carlson released the following statement:
The Archdiocese of St. Louis has cooperated in full transparency with the
Missouri Attorney General’s Office throughout their investigation and will continue to
cooperate fully with civil authorities on cases of clergy abuse of a minor. The Attorney
General’s report confirms the progress the archdiocese has made in implementing the
protocols to protect our children; and while we cannot predict nor control all human behavior,
those protocols have resulted in no acts of physical sexual abuse since the Charter of 2002. We
are taking the Attorney General’s recommendations to the Catholic Church into careful
consideration and will continue to evaluate and enhance our safe environment programs for the
safety of all of our families.
The investigation of allegations of sexual abuse or misconduct in the Roman Catholic Church was launched last year by then-Attorney General Josh Hawley.