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Home USA Abuse survivors call on Attorney General Dave Yost to investigate Ohio Catholic dioceses

Abuse survivors call on Attorney General Dave Yost to investigate Ohio Catholic dioceses

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Several groups that advocate for survivors of sexual abuse called on Wednesday for Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost to investigate the state’s six Catholic dioceses.

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), a national nonprofit, as well as two local groups, Ohioans for Child Protection and Greater Cincinnati Voice of the Faithful, announced their campaign during a news conference at the Statehouse. The groups are calling on the attorney general to investigate “the history and scope of child sexual abuse, trafficking, child sex abuse enabling and cover up” in the dioceses.

At a Statehouse news conference, Rebecca Surendorff (left) and Teresa Dinwiddie-Herrmann (center), both with Ohioans for Child Protection, and Claudia Vercellotti of SNAP speak out about child abuse in the Ohio dioceses.

At a Statehouse news conference, Rebecca Surendorff (left) and Teresa Dinwiddie-Herrmann (center), both with Ohioans for Child Protection, and Claudia Vercellotti of SNAP speak out about child abuse in the Ohio dioceses.

Teresa Dinwiddie-Herrmann, co-chair of Ohioans for Child Protection, said she is aware or credible cases of abuse in Ohio that have not been investigated.

“We know of other cases where allegations have come forward, with evidence, and there has not been criminal investigation or for whatever reason, nothing goes beyond a criminal investigation. And what’s frightening to me is some of those are clergy, coaches and teachers, “ she said.

The groups point to several recent investigations by other states’ attorney generals as precedent — such as Pennsylvania, Illinois and Maryland.

In response, a spokesperson for Yost told The Dispatch that while he encourages victims to report individual cases of abuse to authorities, he is unable to open up a statewide investigation into the dioceses.

“Unlike some other states, Ohio does not grant the attorney general’s office the legal authority to investigate matters like this. The General Assembly has the power to change the law, but at present, SNAP’s concerns should be addressed to local prosecutors.”

The Diocese of Columbus told The Dispatch that “we have been and will continue to be vigilant to maintain a safe environment for all children, youth, and adults.”

“We routinely self-evaluate safety protocols as well as utilize and cooperate with outside entities. The United States Conference of Bishops audits every diocese annually which includes on-site visits every 3 years. Further, not only does the Diocese of Columbus mandate background checks and ongoing training for employees but also all volunteers,” said a diocese spokesperson.

The Catholic Conference of Ohio could not immediately be reached.

Check back for updates.

Peter Gill covers immigration, new American communities and religion for The Dispatch in partnership with Report for America. You can support work like his with a tax-deductible donation to Report for America at:bit.ly/3fNsGaZ.

pgill@dispatch.com

This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Abuse survivors call on Ohio AG to investigate Catholic dioceses

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