RICHMOND – Saying he “felt sick” upon reading a grand jury report on clergy abuse in the Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania, Attorney General Mark R. Herring on Wednesday launched the Virginia Clergy Abuse Hotline and www.VirginiaClergyHotline.com.
He indicated it was part of an ongoing investigation into whether criminal sexual abuse of children may have occurred in Virginia’s Catholic dioceses, and whether leadership in the dioceses may have covered up or abetted any crimes of that nature.
The hotline and online reporting form were launched in the wake of the Pennsylvania grand jury report that documented decades of sexual abuse and cover-up by Catholic clergy in Pennsylvania.
“Like so many Americans, I read the grand jury report on clergy abuse in the Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania, and I felt sick. It made me sick to see the extent of the damage done, the efforts to cover it up, and the complicity and enabling that went on by powerful people who should have known better and should have done more to protect vulnerable children,” said Attorney General Herring. “We shouldn’t assume the behavior and the problems are limited just to Pennsylvania or to one diocese. If there has been abuse or cover-up in Virginia like there was in Pennsylvania I want to know about it, I want to root it out, and I want to help survivors get justice and get on a path to healing.”
The Virginia Clergy Abuse Hotline and www.VirginiaClergyHotline.com will be available twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week to receive reports of abuse by clergy or faith leaders. The toll-free hotline will allow for anonymous reporting. It will be staffed by Virginia State Police investigators during regular business hours.