Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh is investigating the abuse of children in the Archdiocese of Baltimore — the latest state prosecutor to look into crimes committed in the Catholic church following an explosive report on priests' alleged crimes in Pennsylvania.
Frosh’s office has said that state prosecutors never comment publicly on investigations while they are in progress, but Archbishop of Baltimore William E. Lori said his archdiocese is cooperating with a state investigation that is underway.
“I have informed the attorney general that the archdiocese is supportive of the review and will be fully cooperative throughout the process,” Lori wrote in a letter to priests, according to the archdiocese. “Based on my conversations with people throughout the Archdiocese … it is clear that we are a church in crisis and that crisis is one of trust. It is my hope and prayer that this independent review and other acts of transparency by the Archdiocese will bring about greater trust in the Church among those who are understandably skeptical about the Church’s handling of allegations of abuse.”
In addition to the Archdiocese of Baltimore, which spans from western Maryland to Baltimore and its suburbs, two other dioceses cover some counties of Maryland. The Archdiocese of Washington, in addition to the District of Columbia, includes five Maryland counties: Montgomery, Prince George’s, Calvert, Charles and St. Mary’s. The Diocese of Wilmington, which spans the state of Delaware, also includes counties on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.
Spokespeople for the Archdiocese of Washington and the Diocese of Wilmington both said that they have not received requests for records or other information from Frosh’s office.
A spokeswoman for Frosh (D) declined to answer a question about whether the inquiry will eventually extend to the other two dioceses beyond the Archdiocese of Baltimore.
Frosh tweeted Friday encouraging anyone with knowledge of abuse at any school or house of worship in the state to fill out a form on the attorney general’s website. The form asks for the name of the abuser and where and when the abuse occurred, among other questions.
The Missouri attorney general’s office is specifically investigating the Archdiocese of St. Louis, although the state is also home to dioceses based in Jefferson City, Kansas City and Springfield. Pennsylvania’s groundbreaking grand-jury report covered six of the eight dioceses in that state; the other two, Philadelphia and Altoona-Johnstown, had already been the subject of earlier inquiries.
But most states that have announced investigations inspired by Pennsylvania’s report, which documented allegations against more than 300 priests involving over 1,000 children over more than 70 years, have said they are seeking records from all dioceses in their states — including Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico and New York.
While Lori’s archdiocese provides files to Frosh’s investigation, Lori has also been charged with leading a church inquiry himself. Pope Francis asked Lori to investigate Michael J. Bransfield, whom Francis removed from his position as West Virginia’s only bishop this month. Bransfield has been accused of sexually harassing adults and teenagers.