Since Kaul opened the inquiry, the Department of Justice said it has received “over 100 reports of abuse by clergy and faith leaders, or related to how a religious organization has responded to abuse,” Wisconsin Public Radio reports.
“The reports have concerned clergy and faith leaders of multiple religious organizations as well as some reports of abuse not related to any religious organization. Some reports include claims against multiple abusers,” the Department of Justice has said.
Kaul said many reports to his office concern incidents that cannot be prosecuted due to the statute of limitations. The Department of Justice will refer cases to local district attorneys if they are eligible for investigation or prosecution. He declined to say how many cases have been referred.
Other leaders in the Milwaukee archdiocese have criticized the effort.
“Our assertion is the Church is being unfairly singled out by this investigation,” Jerry Topczewski, chief of staff to Archbishop Jerome Listecki of Milwaukee, told CNA June 9. “We have accepted our past history and worked so vigilantly to correct how things are handled, but it’s the Church that is continually targeted.”
Of the some 578 claimants who filed claims against the archdiocese, 99% involved allegations of abuse before the year 1990. In June, Topczewski said, there had been only one substantiated allegation of sexual abuse of a minor by a Milwaukee archdiocese priest since 2000.
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“This reinforces the historical nature of these crimes and indicates that education and prevention efforts are effective,” he said.
Peterson told CNA the archdiocese and the Catholic Church in the U.S. have worked to improve its sexual abuse prevention and response programs.
“It’s important to note that no organization in the U.S. has done more than the Catholic Church to become the model of how to address and prevent sexual abuse,” she said. “The Archdiocese of Milwaukee is the largest provider of Safe Environment sexual abuse prevention training in Wisconsin with more than 100,000 people trained.”