Diocese investigation nearing completion

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(Host) Two and a half months after his office began looking into sexual misconduct allegations against Vermont priests, the attorney general says the first reviews are nearly complete.

VPR’s Steve Zind reports.

(Zind) Attorney General William Sorrell says the reviews are taking longer than expected because investigators have had to conduct additional interviews.

In May, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington gave Sorrell information on allegations dating back several decades. The diocese also voluntarily placed six current priests on administrative leave. Sorrell says his office has been concentrating on the allegations against these priests. He says reviews of at least two of the priests should be completed in the next week or so.

The attorney general has also received independent allegations of sexual misconduct by two additional practicing priests. These priests remain active. Sorrell says he hasn’t told the diocese their names because the age and the nature of the allegations don’t justify their suspension:

(Sorrell) “They certainly warrant our attention, but if we felt that there was an imminent risk to any children, a clear imminent risk to any children right now, we might well be in touch with the employer in that situation.”

(Zind) Sorrell reiterated that much of the information his office has received is difficult to investigate or is too old to prosecute due to Vermont’s statute of limitations.

(Sorrell) “Overall, unless we get information about much more recent conduct than the lion’s share of what we’ve received to date, then criminal prosecutions will be few and far between.”

(Zind) In addition to the eight active priests, the Attorney General’s Office is looking into allegations against 30 priests who are no longer active.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Steve Zind.

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