Washington AG Ferguson investigating Catholic Church for alleged child sex abuse

May 9, 2024, 8:38 AM | Updated: 12:27 pm

catholic church sex abuse...

The facade of the Greek Catholic Co-Cathedral of St. Cyril and Methodius. (Photo: Wolfgang Kaehler, Getty Images)

(Photo: Wolfgang Kaehler, Getty Images)

Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced his office is investigating the Catholic Church for using charitable funds to cover up alleged sex abuse.

Three dioceses of the Catholic Church are at the center of the civil investigation.

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Ferguson claimed the church is not cooperating with subpoenas.

“The church has more information than is shared with the public,” Ferguson said at a Thursday presser announcing this investigation. “It has released names, but it has not released its files on these abusive priests. No one has read files.”

The Catholic Accountability Project (CAP) stated the Attorney General’s Office may have subpoenaed three Catholic Church bishops in Washington last August. The organization believed the Attorney General’s Office was seeking “abuse-related documents and evidence.”

“If this is true, (Attorney General) Bob Ferguson has joined 23 other state attorneys general, both Democrats and Republicans, in investigating sexual abuse in faith-based organizations since 2018,” Tim Law, a Catholic Accountability Project (CAP) founding member, told The Olympian back in February.

CAP is a Washington-based initiative advocating for justice for victims of clergy sexual abuse.

According to Law, the subpoenas were sent to bishops in Yakima, Spokane and Seattle and that some of the accusations against some of the bishops date back as far as the 1960s.

Most Reverend Paul D. Etienne, the Archbishop of Seattle, released a statement to MyNorthwest regarding the investigation.

“We anticipate this news will become public shortly and it is important to me that you hear about this investigation from me and not from our local media,” Etienne said. “I want you to know that we will cooperate with the Attorney General’s request to demonstrate how the Archdiocese of Seattle has handled allegations of sexual abuse and how we are protecting children.

More on Catholic Church: Archdiocese of Seattle announces final plan to consolidate Catholic parishes

“This is an issue we take very seriously and have been proactively addressing for more than 40 years – taking many steps for preventing abuse, reporting abuse, supporting victims and their families and publicizing our actions,” Etienne continued.

You can read the full statement here.

This is a developing story, check back for updates

Contributing: Sam Campbell, KIRO Newsradio

Frank Sumrall is a content editor at MyNorthwest. You can read his stories here and you can email him here.

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