Missouri’s attorney general says his office is close to completing 12 referrals of former clergy members across the state for potential criminal prosecution.
This involves Attorney General Eric Schmitt’s (R) investigation into allegations of sexual abuse by clergy members in the Roman Catholic Church.
“We issued the report about a month ago with our findings and announcing that we had the 12 criminal referrals, so we’re in the process of working with those local prosecutors right now, formally making those criminal referrals,” Schmitt says.
Schmitt’s office notes that in Missouri, the jurisdiction to formally investigate clergy abuse lies with local law enforcement and not the attorney general’s office. Schmitt expects the referrals to be completed soon.
“And also letting them know that we’re ready, willing and able to work with them on those prosecutions,” says Schmitt.
Schmitt spoke to mid-Missouri reporters on Wednesday at Heisinger Bluffs in Jefferson City, following his presentation to seniors about scams.
He says the 12 referrals are more than any other state attorney general.
Schmitt released his office’s report in mid-September, saying that one of his top priorities has been conducting a thorough review of allegations of clergy abuse.
He says his office reviewed every available personnel record of every priest serving in the Archdiocese of St. Louis, the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau and the Diocese of Jefferson City, dating back to 1945. That included more than 2,000 priests and 300 deacons, seminarians and religious women.
Schmitt’s investigation uncovered 163 priests or clergy members accused of sexual abuse or misconduct against minors. Of the 163, 83 of the accused are dead and the statute of limitations has passed in another 46.
Schmitt has said that one case remains under open investigation by the Church. 16 cases have previously been referred for local prosecution and five cases have been or are currently being investigated by prosecutors, leaving the 12 cases that Schmitt’s office is referring.
The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) has called on the Missouri attorney general’s office to use subpoenas and to question Missouri Catholic Church officials under oath.
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