AG Schmitt to issue report on abuse in Catholic church

(Missourinet) Missouri’s attorney general will release a long-anticipated report Friday morning in St. Louis, regarding allegations of clergy abuse statewide within the Roman Catholic Church.

Then-State Treasurer Eric Schmitt speaks to former House Minority Leader Gail McCann Beatty on June 11, 2018 in Jefferson City (file photo courtesy of Tim Bommel at House Communications)

Attorney General Eric Schmitt (R) has called a press conference for Friday at 10 a.m. at the old Post Office in downtown St. Louis.

His report will include all four Missouri dioceses: the Archdiocese of St. Louis, the Diocese of Jefferson City, the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau and the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph.

The investigation has been going on for about a year.

Former Attorney General Josh Hawley’s office told Missourinet in September 2018 that all four Missouri dioceses had agreed to independent reviews conducted by the attorney general’s office.

Hawley resigned as attorney general after his November election to the U.S. Senate, and Schmitt was appointed to the post by the governor.

The Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP) held a Statehouse press conference last September, the same day Hawley’s office spoke to Missourinet about the four dioceses agreeing to independent reviews. SNAP said then that there were at least 113 publicly-accused Catholic priests in Missouri, although SNAP believed the number is higher.

Diocese of Jefferson City Bishop Shawn McKnight briefs reporters in Jefferson City on August 24, 2018 (Brian Hauswirth photo)

SNAP has called on the Missouri attorney general’s office to use subpoenas and to question Missouri Catholic church officials under oath.

Diocese of Jefferson City Bishop Shawn McKnight held a press conference last August, where he said Mr. Hawley had called to express his gratitude for the bishop’s request that the AG’s office review diocese files about clergy abuse.

During that August 2018 press conference, Bishop McKnight was critical of previous Roman Catholic Church leaders.

“Their active cover-up or passive silence when clergy abusers were continued in the ministry or promoted in office gravely compromised the credibility of the hierarchy, and by extension, the whole Church,” McKnight told mid-Missouri reporters that day.

Bishop McKnight described sexual abuse of children as “a crime and a sin,” adding that the Diocese of Jefferson City has no tolerance for those who intentionally harm children.

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