Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley announced Thursday an investigation into clergy sex crimes within the Roman Catholic Church.
The state’s top attorney will be given “unfettered” access to the records of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, Archbishop Robert Carlson said shortly after Hawley’s announcement.
“Anything that we have we will turn over,” Carlson said.
District attorney in Leigh County announces charges against a 30-year-old priest, detailing some of his alleged actions with an unnamed 17-year-old female; Laura Ingle reports.
Word of the investigation came after multiple survivors of clergy sexual abuse protested outside Hawley’s office Wednesday, demanding a statewide probe. The survivors were encouraged by the findings of the grand jury investigation in Pennsylvania that revealed the widespread abuse of more than 1,000 children by 300 predator priests over the last 70 years, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
Hawley’s announcement also came as the Republican is running for a U.S. Senate seat against incumbent Democrat Claire McCaskill, with the latest polls showing the candidates virtually deadlocked.
The extent to which sexual abuse by priests exists in the state is unclear as there have been few convictions. But David Clohessy, 61, a longtime victims’ rights advocate in the state who was abused as a child, claims that more than 170 priests in Missouri have been accused in recent decades.
He blamed prosecutors who haven’t been “assertive or creative enough in exposing and pursuing these wrongdoers.”
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