Diocese of Pittsburgh subpoenaed by state grand jury investigating possible sexual abuse
The state Attorney General’s Office has subpoenaed the Diocese of Pittsburgh for records dating to 1947 to be used in a grand jury investigation into possible child sexual abuse, and the diocese is cooperating with the investigation, Bishop David Zubik announced Friday.
“In the ongoing need to protect children from abuse, I welcome the opportunity to work closely with the state Attorney General’s Office,” Zubik said.
The bishop said that Deputy Attorney General Daniel Dye requested the records and wrote in his cover letter, “our efforts do not have to be adversarial. … Our work to protect children and seek the truth should be a joint endeavor.”
The bishop stated, “I could not agree more. We are absolutely committed to protecting children from abuse.”
The Attorney General’s Office did not respond to request for comment Friday.
In the wake of a hard-hitting grand jury report in March about abuse in the Altoona-Johnstown diocese, state investigators began conducting inquiries into other Roman Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania, then-Solicitor General Bruce Castor said in May.
Dye was in charge of conducting the inquiries, he said.
The grand jury report said nearly 50 priests molested hundreds of children over several decades in the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese.
The report also mentioned the former Rev. Joseph Maurizio, 71, of Somerset County is serving a 16-year prison term on federal charges of traveling to Honduras on mission trips to abuse boys. He was also convicted of possessing child pornography and international money laundering.
Zubik said he was not surprised by the subpoena, which the diocese received Sept. 1 and requested all reports of alleged child sexual abuse, credible or not, within the Pittsburgh Diocese. The Diocese encompasses Allegheny, Beaver, Butler, Greene, Lawrence and Washington counties.
The bishop said the diocese is working to compile the records requested, and was in the process of reviewing files, which it does regularly, when it was subpoenaed.
“The earliest file that I recall recording goes back to 1963,” Zubik said of alleged sexual abuse reported to the diocese.
Zubik said he did not know the motivation behind the subpoena other than to “try to get to the bottom of what happens with child sexual abuse,” but said instances such as the Jerry Sandusky scandal at Penn State and other public institutions that have been in the spotlight relative to sexual assault allegations may have been a factor.
“When you take a look at this, I see a positive sign in this that it’s my hope that it’s the first step that the government’s going to take to be able to examine all institutions over what their policies are and if they have incidences of sexual abuse of minors within their institutions as well, too,” he said.
The diocese will turn the requested files over to the Attorney General’s Office through its attorneys. Diocese attorneys have been in contact with the Attorney General’s Office to make sure the office knew that the diocese received the subpoena and is complying with it. Diocese attorneys are keeping the Attorney General’s Office informed of the diocese’s progress on the files and establishing how the office wants the files turned over.
“I ask your prayers for all victim-survivors and their families,” Zubik said. “May God guide everyone in efforts to provide comfort and healing to victim-survivors of abuse. May God enlighten everyone engaged in this legal process.”
Madasyn Czebiniak is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 412-320-7822.