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Washington AGO sues Catholic Church for documents in child abuse investigation

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(The Center Square) – Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson is asking a court to enforce a subpoena against the Catholic Church’s Seattle Archdiocese in an effort to obtain documents related to a child abuse investigation.

Speaking at Thursday’s press conference, Ferguson said the investigation is looking into alleged “decades of persuasive sexual abuse” but the archdiocese has refused to hand over information that has already been made publicly available. The AGO’s investigation specifically is investigating whether three Washington dioceses used charitable funds to cover up allegations against clergy.

A press release statement says that “the Attorney General’s Office has a longstanding policy that it does not comment on investigations, including confirming whether they exist. Because the Seattle Archdiocese refused to comply with the office’s subpoena, the office now must seek a court order to move the investigation forward. This process made the investigation public.”

According to the motion filed in King County Superior Court, “the people of Washington have a compelling interest in learning the truth about the Church’s complicity in sexual abuse and whether the Archdiocese’s charitable trust funds were misused for that unlawful purpose. They deserve evidence-backed assurances—not empty promises—that going forward, those trust funds will never be used to harm children.”

In 2016, the Seattle Archdiocese released a list of clergy and religious leaders who the church believes were involved in sexual abuse of a minor in western Washington.

The King County Superior Court hearing is scheduled for May 22.

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