Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller is requesting all Roman Catholic dioceses in the state to provide records of sexual abuse in the church to his office.
In a letter to the bishops of the Roman Catholic Church in Iowa, Miller called for all dioceses to voluntarily turn over to the attorney general’s office all “published or unpublished” lists of priests and deacons deemed “credibly accused” of sexual abuse, and lists of those accused but whom the dioceses deemed accusations “not credible.”
The attorney general’s letter also calls for the bishops to release copies of settlement agreements the dioceses entered with survivors of clergy abuse, including non-disclosure agreements, the monetary sum the diocese paid to survivors and the names of any clergy accused in the settlements.
Miller asked for the bishops to respond to his office’s request by Aug. 1.
In a press release, Miller said he has met with survivors of abuse by members of the clergy and urged other victims to contact his office.
“In some cases, their stories have never been made public. These survivors have urged us to investigate and bring attention to the injustice they and others have suffered,” Miller said. “We agree that full transparency is necessary to provide justice and ultimately, reconciliation and healing.”
The state's four bishops issued a joint statement pledging to cooperate with the attorney general's requests.
"Each diocese, in the interest of transparency and accountability, plans to comply with the attorney general’s request," the bishops wrote in the statement. "In fact, most of the information requested is already a matter of public record. Also, the efforts of each diocese to protect minors from clergy sexual abuse have for many years now been subject to an annual credible third-party review."
In January 2018, Pope Francis accused victims of sex abuse by a priest in Chile of fabricating their stories of a bishop covering up that abuse. Francis later apologized for that accusation, and in February 2019 convened a summit in the Vatican to discuss prevention of sexual abuse by clergy.
Since the 2002 Boston Globe investigation into sexual abuse by clergy in the Archdiocese of Boston, the Catholic Church in the United States has paid out billions of dollars in settlements to victims.
The Iowa attorney general’s office has opened a hotline for victims of abuse by clergy to call and “speak with a trained advocate” at (855) 620-7000.
Alternatively, a form on the attorney general’s website can be completed to report past abuse by clergy.
The National Sexual Assault Hotline is (1-800) 656-4673.