Support group for clergy abuse victims applauds Indiana AG’s initiative

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Attorney General Curtis Hill's office introduced a new initiative to help victims of sexual abuse. It is now offering an online form to report abuse by clergy.

Hill says any forms submitted may be disclosed to law enforcement agencies in accordance with Indiana law.

Attorney generals in more than a dozen states said they are investigating or reviewing clergy abuse in the Roman Catholic Church. It's making Hoosiers wonder how much of a problem it is in Indiana.

"I believe it will help survivors," said Tim Lennon, President of Board of Directors for Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP.

Lennon said he understands the challenges of coming forward because he was abused as a child. He believed this form will provide an opportunity for survivors to step forward.

"In general, even adult victims of abuse and rape never step forward," he said.

Hill hopes to make this process easier. The online form asks a number of questions like when and where the alleged abuse happened.

“Members of the clergy hold positions of great responsibility,” Hill said. “People trust them and look to them for guidance. By providing this service, we help ensure that if ever a religious leader betrays that trust by committing an illegal act of abuse, he or she is more likely to be found out and investigated. Those who violate our laws must be held fully accountable for their actions.”

In just the last few months, three priests within the Indianapolis Archdiocese were accused of abuse or sexual misconduct.

Father John Maung, 79, was suspended by the Indianapolis Archdiocese following the allegation. He has denied the claim. Father Patrick Doyle, 68, resigned his role as priest of Nativity Catholic Church on the city's southeast side after the Review Board for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis found an allegation of sexual misconduct credible. Father David J. Marcotte was suspended over the sexual abuse of a minor that allegedly happened in 2016.

Some churches in Indiana want to know more about the people who have contact with kids. A background screening firm in Danville called Safe Hiring Solutions is helping them do that.

"Generally, we probably get 2 or 3 inquiries a day just from churches looking at risk management products," said Michael McCarty, CEO of Safe Hiring Solutions.

The company sends participating churches an alert when clergy or volunteers are arrested. He said they are working with hundreds of churches in Indiana.

"Really trying to keep that really motivated offender away from children," he said.

There's a bill related to sex abuse that's still alive in the state legislature. If passed, SB 219 would allow a committee to study the statute of limitations for a person who wants to take civil action against someone.

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