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Federal authorities in Washington D.C. have launched a new hotline and email resource for victims of clergy sexual abuse in the District of Columbia. As of Monday, October 22, 2018, survivors of sexual abuse committed by members of the D.C. clergy can call 202-252-7008 or email USADC.ReportClergyAbuse@usdog.gov to report the crimes.
Washington’s Catholic establishment has been thrown into turmoil in the wake of a Pennsylvania grand jury report that accused Cardinal Donald Wuerl, former Archbishop of Washington, of protecting dangerous pedophile priests.
He also faced allegations from Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano of covering up the sexual abuse allegations against Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, Wuerl’s predecessor as Archbishop of Washington.
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The hotline and email are also open to witnesses and other concerned citizens who have information on clergy-involved cases of sexual abuse. The phone line will be staffed by professional victim advocates who can help connect survivors to support services in their area. A team of criminal investigators and prosecutors will review the tips to see if criminal charges can be filed.
The Clergy Abuse Reporting Line is being operated by the District of Columbia U.S. Attorney’s Office Victim Witness Assistance Unit and the D.C. Superior Court Division’s Sex Offense and Domestic Violence Section. Reports can be made anonymously; you are not required to provide your name or other personal identifying information.
Becky Ianni, treasurer for SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, says the new hotline is another important step toward assisting survivors and applying further pressure to the Church.
“I didn’t tell anyone until the age of 48,” Ianni told WTOP, “so it’s really hard for survivors to come forward. But when someone reaches out to them – like the US attorney’s office is doing in Washington, D.C. – that kind of opens a window for victims to say ‘maybe now I can speak out; maybe it’ll be safe; now someone’s going to listen.”
Pope Francis accepted Cardinal Donald Wuerl’s resignation earlier in October.
Sexual abuse and assault are severely underreported crimes. According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, around 2 of every 3 sexual crimes go unreported.