Showing posts with label Religion/Crime. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Religion/Crime. Show all posts

February 3, 2020

Priest Wrap Boy in Plastic to Sexually Abuse Him

Image result for Brian Stanley, 57,"
          Image result for Brian Stanley, 57,

ALLEGAN, MI — A former Otsego priest was sentenced to jail and probation Monday, Jan. 27, in Allegan County Circuit Court on one count of attempted unlawful imprisonment of a 17-year-old boy.

Brian Stanley, 57, was arrested Aug. 22 and charged with one count of unlawful imprisonment, a 15-year felony. As part of a plea agreement made at his pretrial hearing in November, that charge was dismissed at sentencing.

Stanley admitted at his pretrial hearing to tying up the boy and taping his eyes and mouth shut in September 2013, while “secretly confining” him for “approximately 30 minutes" in the janitor’s room of St. Margaret’s Church in Otsego. He will spend 60 days in jail, five years on probation and be required to register as a sex offender for a period of 15 years, according to the sentence issued Monday by Allegan County Circuit Judge Margaret Bakker.

Having to register as a sex offender will also force him to move to a new residence, as his home is located near a school, said Stanley’s attorney Michael Hills during the sentencing.

Michigan State Assistant Attorney General Alison Furtaw, while arguing for Stanley’s sentence to exceed sentencing guidelines, pointed out that according to the pre-sentence report, Stanley admitted to engaging in similar conduct on multiple occasions over the prior two decades.

Three other alleged victims have come forward, Furtaw said, one of whom was 13 at the time he was allegedly abused.

“Although (Stanley) reports there was no sexual reason for doing this to the victims, they thought he was masturbating but it was hard for them to tell because their eyes were taped shut,” Furtaw told the court. “This was going on for a long time. These victims were not able to receive justice because this was outside of the statute of limitations.”

Hill, referencing a letter received and follow-up conversations with the victim’s family, argued for a lighter sentence for his client, saying the family does not want Stanley incarcerated. After that communication, Hill said, he encouraged his client to withdraw his plea. Stanley did not withdraw his guilty plea.

“We can only assume he pleaded because he didn’t want (the victim) to have to testify,” Hills said, adding that Stanley told him, "'No, what I did was wrong and I am ready to accept responsibility.'

“He’s 57 years, old, has zero criminal history, and having to register as a sex offender has serious impacts. All he has done over the course of his adult life as work is be a priest, a professor, all of that’s gone,” Hills said.

Stanley, according to Furtaw, was living with the victim when the incidents occurred and the victim’s parents had encouraged the living situation as Stanley was the child’s “spiritual adviser” and the child was in need of help dealing with addiction and other issues.

When offered the opportunity to make a statement or apology to the court prior to his sentencing, Stanley declined.

“I believe good people do bad things,” Bakker said while issuing Stanley’s sentence. “Does the fact that they have done good negate the bad? I don’t think it does.”

The judge, in response to Hills’ statement the victim’s family does not wish to see Stanley receive any jail time, said it is not unusual, particularly in cases involving children, to see a change of heart after a report is made.

"It’s a very typical response because typically the person who abuses a child is also a friend to the child,” Bakker said. “Whether a parent, stepparent, boyfriend of a parent, Cub Scout leader, Girl Scout leader, priest, youth leader, as a prosecutor, I think I’ve prosecuted all those types of people. They are good people but they do bad things.”

The judge said it is also common that those victimized are among the most vulnerable members of society.

“This case is very serious, very concerning and very disturbing and I can’t believe there isn’t going to be a long-term impact on everyone involved,” Bakker said. “I believe the defendant knew what he was doing was wrong.”

The 2013 incident was reported to the Diocese of Kalamazoo shortly after it occurred, prompting Stanley to be placed on administrative leave immediately, according to an August statement from the diocese after Stanley’s arrest.

The diocese stated that it reported the allegation to Child Protective Services, who in turn referred the matter to the Otsego Police Department.

“We promptly placed Father Brian Stanley on administrative leave pending the outcome of the police investigation. According to the Otsego Police Department, ‘the complaint was not criminal and there would be no charges,’” the statement from the diocese said.

Stanley was then reinstated, the attorney general’s office said, and four years later the diocese learned of additional allegations involving Stanley and reported those incidents to the Coldwater Police Department; however, no charges were filed by law enforcement as the witness refused to testify at that time.

Stanley was again placed on administrative leave upon learning of the new allegations, the diocese said, but this time was not reinstated.

“The Diocese of Kalamazoo continues to pray for all survivor-victims as well as all those impacted by this situation, including members of our Catholic faithful whose faith and trust may be shaken," diocese spokeswoman Victoria Cessna said in a statement issued following Monday’s sentencing.

Cessna continued by saying that the diocese remains steadfast in its "commitment to promote greater protection and safeguards of all people, particularly for children and vulnerable adults.”

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) issued a statement of its own after the charges were filed against Stanley back in August.

The organization called on church officials throughout the state to make announcements from the pulpit, and to use parish bulletins and church websites to share information about the case “to encourage victims, witnesses and whistleblowers to come forward and make a report to law enforcement.”

“We hope this story inspires others who may be suffering in silence to come forward, make a report to the AG, and start healing," said Zach Hiner, executive director for SNAP, in the statement.

The organization, as well as the attorney general’s office and the Diocese of Kalamazoo, asks anyone who has suspicions about cases of clergy abuse to call 1-844-324-3374 or to use this confidential, online reporting form.

Stanley’s case is one of many that has been, or is being, investigated by Michigan State Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office following a 2018 raid of the seven Catholic dioceses in the state of Michigan, which helped corroborate first-hand accounts of abuse, Nessel said.

“Mr. Stanley took advantage of a vulnerable victim and today he is being held accountable,” Nessel said in a statement issued Monday, Jan. 27. “We continue to review information seized from all seven Michigan dioceses in 2018, and we will thoroughly evaluate accusations and complaints brought forth by victims. For too long, criminal behavior by members of the clergy has gone unnoticed, and that must stop.”

Hundreds of sex-abuse claims were made against Catholic priests, former and current, in the first six months of the investigation, and Nessel said she expected that number to eclipse 1,000 claims in what was anticipated to be a two-year investigation that could last late into 2020.

Also on MLive:

Priest abuse case shows why state investigation needed, advocacy group says

Shame and guilt haunt those who say Catholic clergy in Michigan sexually abused them

Michigan priest accused of tying up teenage boy, taping mouth and eyes

5 Michigan priests charged with 21 counts of criminal sexual abuse


August 14, 2019

Study}} Evangelicals and People with Crosses Are Killing Us in South America

{{BOGOTA (Thomson Reuters Foundation) }} 
Four LGBT+ people are murdered every day in Latin America and the Caribbean, according to “alarming” new research released on Thursday by a regional network of gay rights groups. 
At least 1,300 LGBT+ people have been murdered in the region in the past five years, with Colombia, Mexico and Honduras accounting for nearly 90 percent of all deaths, according to data collected by the network of 10 groups. 
“At the bottom of these violent deaths of LGBT people is exclusion, and sometimes total exclusion,” said Marcela Sanchez, head of Colombia Diversa, a Bogota-based LGBT+ rights group that is part of the network. 
“Many of these deaths do not matter to anyone, not even to their own families,” Sanchez told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. 
The Regional Information Network on Violence against LGBTI People in Latin America and the Caribbean said it was the first time data had been gathered in nine countries across the region to show the scale of the problem. 
The research aimed to draw government attention to the violence as well as raising awareness, Sanchez said. 
Data showed the majority of victims were young gay men aged 18 to 25, who were most likely to be murdered in their homes, followed by transgender women killed in the street. 
In Colombia’s capital Bogota, criminal gangs have targeted gay men, believing them to be wealthier than heterosexual men because they do not have children, the report said. Nearly 12% of all killings were carried out by people known to their victims.  
         Carrera 7, Centro Internacional de Bogotá D.C.      A Killer! Nice church and collects so much money as you can see by how nice it is in a poor country...because they fight the "Homosexuals" If there were no homosexuals they would find another demon to make's always been that way.
 The countries in the study have high overall levels of crime and gang-related drug violence. Murder rates in Mexico, Colombia and Honduras are at least three times the global average of 6.1 per 100,000 people, according to the United Nations. 
LGBT+ people who have been murdered often had a history of abuse and discrimination in and outside of the home, Sanchez said. 
Parts of South America have made progress on LGBT+ rights in the past decade, the report said, including laws allowing same-sex couples to marry and adopt children. 
But despite legal protections, violence against the LGBT+ community remains rife, it said, calling it a “cultural problem”.  The growing influence of evangelical Christian groups in recent years, particularly in Central America, have stymied efforts to change attitudes to LGBT+ rights, Sanchez said. 
Most evangelical groups are critical of gay rights and believe marriage should only be between a man and a woman. 
“It’s important to take into account the rise or hardening of fundamentalist, religious discourse,” Sanchez said. 
Reporting by Anastasia Moloney @anastasiabogota, Editing by Claire Cozens. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's and LGBT+ rights, human trafficking, property rights, and climate change. Visit

June 20, 2019

Southern Baptist Pastor Stephen Bratton Charged With Capital Murder

Two months ago, when he was still a Southern Baptist pastor, Stephen Bratton testified in favor of a Texas bill that could have allowed women who get abortions to be charged with homicide, a crime punishable by death in the Lone Star State.
On Friday, the 43-year-old was charged with continuous sex abuse of a child. He stands accused of molesting a teenage relative for two years, including “sexual intercourse multiple times a day or several times a week,” a Harris County deputy said this weekend, according to the Houston Chronicle.
Bratton posted a $50,000 bond on Saturday, the Chronicle reported. The Associated Press could not locate a phone number for Bratton, nor find his attorney, on Sunday. 
The charges against Bratton also come just a week after Southern Baptist leaders gathered in Birmingham, Alabama, to discuss sex abuse reform after recent reports found hundreds of clergy and staff were accused of sexual misconduct over the past 20 years. The pastors voted to form a committee to examine allegations that churches failed to adequately deal with claims of sex abuse, and to make it clear that the Southern Baptist Convention can expel churches for mishandling such claims. 
Bratton confessed to his wife and clergy members about the abuse last month, and resigned from his job at a Houston-area church. He has since been excommunicated, one of Bratton’s co-pastors, Aaron Wright, told the Chronicle. 
“This person’s life is in such a contradiction to the faith that we see no evidence that they are a Christian,” Wright said.
The Texas state Legislature ultimately did not vote on the anti-abortion measure Bratton testified in favor of, but this year marked the first time that Texas had heard public testimony on a bill that could leave women criminally liable for getting abortions, the Washington Post reported. More than 400 “witnesses” reportedly registered their approval for the bill.
"Whoever authorizes or commits murder is guilty," Bratton testified during the hearing, according to the Associated Press. "They're guilty already in a court that is far more weighty than what is here in Texas.
Cover: This undated photo provided by the Harris County Sheriff's Office shows former Grace Family Baptist Church pastor Stephen Bratton, 43. The former Southern Baptist pastor who supported legislation in Texas that would have criminalized abortions has been arrested on charges of child sex abuse, accused of repeatedly molesting a teenage relative over the course of two years. (Harris County Sheriff's Office via AP)

May 16, 2019

Jerry Falwell with Trump, Cohen and the POORBOY Section}2{

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POOR white boy smiles for sugar daddy falwell

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Months before evangelical leader Jerry Falwell Jr.’s game-changing presidential endorsement of Donald Trump in 2016, Falwell asked Trump fixer Michael Cohen for a personal favor, Cohen said in a recorded conversation reviewed by Reuters.  Falwell, president of Liberty University, one of the world’s largest Christian universities, said someone had come into possession of what Cohen described as racy “personal” photographs — the sort that would typically be kept “between husband and wife,” Cohen said in the taped conversation. 
According to a source familiar with Cohen’s thinking, the person who possessed the photos destroyed them after Cohen intervened on the Falwells’ behalf. 
The Falwells, through a lawyer, declined to comment for this article.   
Cohen, who began a three-year prison sentence this week for federal campaign violations and lying to Congress, recounted his involvement in the matter in a recording made surreptitiously by comedian Tom Arnold on March 25. Portions of the recording — in which Cohen appeared to disavow parts of his guilty plea — were first reported April 24 by The Wall Street Journal. 
The Falwells enlisted Cohen’s help in 2015, according to the source familiar with Cohen’s thinking, the year Trump announced his presidential candidacy. At the time, Cohen was Trump’s confidant and personal lawyer, and he worked for the Trump Organization. 
The Falwells wanted to keep “a bunch of photographs, personal photographs” from becoming public, Cohen told Arnold. “I actually have one of the photos,” he said, without going into specifics. “It’s terrible.” 
Cohen would later prove successful in another matter involving Falwell, two people familiar with the matter told Reuters. Cohen helped persuade Falwell to issue his endorsement of Trump’s presidential candidacy at a critical moment, they said: just before the Iowa caucuses. Falwell subsequently barnstormed with Trump and vouched for the candidate’s Christian virtues.  Reuters has no evidence that Falwell’s endorsement of Trump was related to Cohen’s involvement in the photo matter. The source familiar with Cohen’s thinking insisted the endorsement and the help with the photographs were separate issues. 
Cohen’s connection to the Falwells sheds light on the formidable alliance between Trump and a man who, through his university, is one of the most influential evangelical figures in America. Falwell’s backing helped galvanize evangelicals and persuaded many Christians concerned about Trump’s past behavior to embrace him as a repentant sinner. 
Falwell’s support for Trump has not wavered throughout the New York celebrity-politician’s own tribulations, including the Access Hollywood recording of Trump talking about grabbing women’s genitals and payoffs made by Cohen to hide Trump’s extramarital affairs. This past weekend, Falwell tweeted that “Trump should have 2 yrs added to his 1st term” to make up for the two years of the Mueller investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. 


Falwell’s endorsement of Trump, however, did surprise some students and staff at Liberty University, the school in Lynchburg, Virginia, founded by Falwell’s father, Jerry. It was at Liberty where fellow Republican presidential candidate and major Trump rival Ted Cruz had chosen to launch his campaign the previous year. Cruz’s father was an evangelical preacher, much like Falwell’s father; Trump has been married three times and divorced twice. For years, prior to running for president, Trump boasted of his sexual exploits and supported a host of social positions, such as abortion rights, that run counter to beliefs espoused by Falwell. 
Although Falwell declined interview requests for this story, he has said repeatedly that he endorsed Trump because Trump was the strongest candidate, had significant experience running a business, and had the right vision for the country. 
The connection between Trump and Falwell goes back years. In 2012, Trump gave the convocation at Liberty University. One link between Trump and the couple appears to have been Cohen, a now-disbarred New York lawyer who formed a close bond with the Falwells. 
During the campaign, Cohen worked closely with Liberty University to help promote Trump’s candidacy. It was around that time that Cohen heard from the Falwells about the photographs, said the source familiar with Cohen’s thinking. 
The Falwells told Cohen that someone had obtained photographs that were embarrassing to them, and was demanding money, the source said. Reuters was unable to determine who made the demand. The source said Cohen flew to Florida and soon met with an attorney for the person with the photographs. Cohen spoke with the attorney, telling the lawyer that his client was committing a crime, and that law enforcement authorities would be called if the demands didn’t stop, the source said. 
The matter was soon resolved, the source said, and the lawyer told Cohen that all of the photographs were destroyed. 

Months later, in early 2016, Trump faced what seemed like an enormous challenge. The Iowa caucus was coming up, and Cohen — then deeply loyal to Trump — was concerned about how Trump would fare, the source said. Cohen felt Trump “was being slaughtered in that community,” and “didn’t want to see him embarrassed or, you know, without support,” said the source familiar with Cohen’s thinking. Cohen repeatedly reached out to Jerry Falwell, and pleaded with him to back Trump, the source said. 
Soon after, according to this account, Falwell made his historic announcement. “I am proud to offer my endorsement of Donald J. Trump for President of the United States,” Falwell was quoted saying in a statement issued by the Trump campaign. “He is a successful executive and entrepreneur, a wonderful father and a man who I believe can lead our country to greatness again.” 
Reporting by Aram Roston. Edited by Blake Morrison.

December 13, 2018

Top Advisor to The Pope, Cardinal Pell, Found Guilty of Historical Sexual Offenses

Australian Cardinal George Pell leaves the Melbourne Magistrates Court Oct. 6. 
(CNS photo/Mark Dadswell, Reuters)

Gerard O’Connell
American Magazine

An Australian jury has found Cardinal George Pell, 77, guilty on five charges of “historical child sexual offenses” that go back decades, according to various media reports and confirmed by America. The 12-member jury gave their unanimous verdict in the County Court of the State of Victoria in Melbourne on Tuesday, Dec. 11.
The judge decided that the sentencing will take place in early February 2019 and released the cardinal on bail.
Little is known about the nature of the charges on which Cardinal Pell has been condemned because the entire trial and a second trial that has yet to take place are covered by a strict suppression order issued by the presiding judge, Peter Kidd. The order prohibits reporting on the case in any of the country’s media until the second trial has taken place to avoid prejudicing his case in both instances. The judge has prohibited the publication of the number of complainants in either of the two trials as well as the number and nature of the charges, except for the fact that the charges relate to “historical child sexual offenses.” 
An Australian jury has found Cardinal George Pell, 77, guilty on five charges of historical sexual offenses. 

The cardinal is the most senior churchman yet to be convicted of such offenses, though he is not the third-ranking Vatican official, as some media have reported. His conviction is a grave blow not only to the church in Australia but also to the Vatican and to Pope Francis, who placed great trust in him by nominating the Australian prelate to his nine-member Council of Cardinal Advisors (he was the only cardinal from Oceania at that time, and Francis chose one cardinal from each continent) and by appointing him as prefect of the Secretariat of the Economy with a sweeping mandate to reform Vatican finances.
Cardinal Pell made great headway in those reform efforts, but he has not finished that work when he decided to return to Australia to respond to the allegations of historical sexual offenses. The cardinal has always maintained his innocence. Committal hearings were held in May at the end of which the presiding magistrate while dismissing some of the most serious charges, ordered him to stand trial on the other charges.
His lawyers and the Victoria State public prosecutors agreed to split the charges against him into two trials: one relating to alleged sexual offenses committed at the cathedral in Melbourne (the first trial known as “the cathedral trial”) and the other for abuse said to have been committed in Ballarat, reportedly at a swimming pool (known as “the swimmers trial”). Yesterday’s verdict comes from the first trial. That trial began in September but the jury could not reach a verdict, and so a new trial began in November which resulted in yesterday’s verdict. The second trial is expected to take place early in 2019, probably around mid-February or early March, after the sentencing related to the first verdict has taken place. 
Cardinal Pell’s conviction is a grave blow not only to the church in Australia but also to the Vatican and to Pope Francis. 

The Vatican has not commented on the news of the cardinal’s conviction out of respect for the suppression order. On Wednesday, Dec. 12., the director of the Holy See Press Office, Greg Burke, responding to a question at a press brief in the Vatican about whether the cardinal would remain as prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy in the light of his judicial situation told reporters, “That is a good question.”
He then added, “The Holy See has the utmost respect for the Australian judicial authorities. We are aware there is a suppression order in place and we respect that order.”
Pope Francis told journalists in an airborne press conference earlier this year that he would speak only after the judicial process (which includes the possibility of appeal after sentencing) had run its course. Sources say the cardinal, who has always insisted in this innocence, will appeal.
The conviction of another Australian archbishop, Philip Wilson, was overturned by an appeals court, and sources believe the case of Cardinal Pell could follow suit. 
Pope Francis has said he would speak only after the judicial process had run its course.  

Pope Francis “granted Cardinal Pell a leave of absence so he could defend himself from the accusations” on June 29, 2017. Since then, the cardinal has been unable to carry out his responsibilities as prefect of the Secretariat of the Economy, a senior position in the Vatican, and as a member of the pope’s council of nine cardinals advisors.
Prior to his leave of absence—when allegations became public and some thought the pope should have removed Cardinal Pell from office—Francis applied the principle of law known as “in dubio pro reo” (“doubt favors the accused”), insisting that a person is to be considered innocent until proven guilty. The pope did not remove Cardinal Pell from his Vatican posts then because he believed to do so would be equivalent to an admission of guilt. Francis explained his stance in a press conference on the return flight from World Youth Day in Poland, July 31, 2016. He said: “We have to wait for the justice system to do its job and not pass judgment in the media because this is not helpful. ‘Judgment’ by gossip, and then what? We don’t know how it will turn out. See what the justice system decides. Once it has spoken, then I will speak.” 
Pope Francis’ words make clear that he does not intend to speak until the judicial process, including a possible appeal, has ended. He has, however, terminated Cardinal Pell’s membership of the council of nine cardinal advisors, Mr. Burke, indicated on Dec. 12. Mr. Burke revealed that at the end of October, the pope sent a letter thanking Cardinals Pell, Francisco Javier Errazuriz (Chile) and Laurent Monswengo Pasinya (the Democratic Republic of the Congo) for their work in his council of cardinal advisors over the past five years.
Cardinal Pell could decide to hand in his resignation as Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, since it is unlikely that his second trial and an eventual appeal will have taken place by the time his five-year term as prefect expires on Feb. 24. The cardinal, who will be 78 in June, could also resign from his other roles in various Roman Curia departments and offices. Currently, he is a member of the Congregation for Bishops, the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and the Societies of Apostolic Life and the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization.
Regardless, Cardinal Pell is not allowed to carry out any pastoral ministry in public until the whole judicial process has ended, and then only if the verdict is in his favor. 

November 12, 2018

Humans Have Never Been Saints: ie Mother Theresa, Worse Than The Average Sinner

 Nobody epitomizes the answer of this question more than Anjeze Gonxhe, aka Mother Theresa.

October 20, 2018

Feds Investigating on Sex Probe Against Child Sex Abuse Cases on Pennsylvania Church


 St Mary's Church in PA. Where Police is investigating child sex abuse

The Department of Justice has launched an investigation of child sex abuse within Pennsylvania's Roman Catholic Church, sending subpoenas to dioceses across the state seeking private files and records to explore the possibility that priests and bishops violated federal law in cases that go back decades, NPR has learned.
In what is thought to be the first-ever such inquiry into the church's clergy sex-abuse scandal, authorities have issued subpoenas to look into possible violations of the federal Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations statute, also known as RICO, according to a person close to the investigation who spoke on the condition of anonymity.  
The source did not elaborate on what other potential federal crimes could be part of the inquiry, which could take years and is now only in its early stages. 
RICO has historically been used to dismantle organized-crime syndicates. 
Officials at six of Pennsylvania's eight dioceses — Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Allentown, Erie, Scranton and Harrisburg — have confirmed to NPR that they have recently received and are currently complying with federal subpoenas for information. The two remaining dioceses did not return requests for comment.  
Supporters of those who have been victimized by church leaders applauded federal prosecutors for initiating a criminal investigation into one of the state's most powerful institutions.  
"There is a consensus rising, which is this just has to stop. And it won't stop if prosecutors just sit on their hands," said Marci Hamilton, University of Pennsylvania professor who also runs Child USA, a group that advocates for victims of child sex abuse. "The federal government has been silent on these issues to date, and it's high time they got to work."
The federal investigation follows a sweeping grand jury report released in August by the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office that found that more than 1,000 minors were abused by some 300 priests across Pennsylvania over a 70-year period.
A dozen other states have also opened investigations into clergy sex abuse.
Fallout from the Pennsylvania report has included Catholic schools that honored now-disgraced clergy being renamed and the archbishop of Washington, D.C., Cardinal Donald Wuerl, resigning after being accused of covering up sexual abuse during his time as bishop of Pittsburgh.
Numerous other church officials, the report found, participated in a systemic cover-up of the abuse that included shuffling priests around to other parishes and, in some cases, obstructing police investigations. However, because some of the allegations are decades old, many of the accused are now deceased. 
Because of Pennsylvania's statute of limitations, just two of the priests named in the report were charged as a result of the state-led investigation.
Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond, says that the federal statute of limitations could allow more time to prosecute individuals who are now out of reach under state laws.
"This could bring the full force of the federal government to bear. It's potentially enormous," he said.
The subpoenas were first reported by The Associated Press, which said investigators sought to examine organizational charts, insurance coverage, clergy assignments and confidential documents stored in what has become known as the church's "Secret Archives." 
U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania William McSwain authorized the subpoenas. A spokeswoman for McSwain declined to comment.
A Justice Department representative in Washington, D.C., would neither confirm nor deny the existence of the investigation.
Legal experts said accruing enough evidence to build a RICO case against the Roman Catholic Church — basically treating the influential institution as a crime syndicate — will be a burdensome task. 
Child USA's Hamilton, for one, said she thinks using federal RICO as a weapon against the church would be a stretch, since the 1970 law is not designed to deal with problems such as sex abuse and other personal injury cases. Instead, she said, most RICO cases involve financial crimes. "I hope that they can find a way to make it fit, but it will be challenging," she said.
However, Hamilton said a federal statute called the Mann Act, which prohibits moving people across state lines for the purpose of illegal sex acts, could be a more promising legal avenue. 
"As we know, there have been plenty of priests who took children across state lines," she said.
Tobias, the law professor who specializes in federal courts, said whatever comes of the investigation, the issuing of the subpoenas has likely sent a jolt across the country. If the inquiry of the Pennsylvania church results in criminal charges, it could be used as a road map for federal prosecutors hoping to pursue abusers in other states. 
"Pennsylvania might be the first state where the federal government does this," Tobias said. "But then they build on the lessons they've learned there, as DOJ often does when they have a national issue, and go to the other states and use that template again."

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