Virginia Opens Hotline for Reporting Church Sex Abuse

Virginia's attorney general now offers a phone number and website for reporting sexual abuse by members of clergy in the state.

Attorney General Mark Herring announced the hotline and website on Wednesday, two days after D.C.'s attorney general did the same. Herring said he wanted to see clergy members be brought to justice in the state.

"Like so many Americans, I read the grand jury report on clergy abuse in the Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania, and I felt sick. It made me sick to see the extent of the damage done, the efforts to cover it up, and the complicity and enabling that went on by powerful people who should have known better and should have done more to protect vulnerable children," he said in a statement.

"We shouldn’t assume the behavior and the problems are limited just to Pennsylvania or to one diocese. If there has been abuse or cover-up in Virginia like there was in Pennsylvania I want to know about it, I want to root it out, and I want to help survivors get justice and get on a path to healing," he continued.

The toll-free hotline 833-454-9064 and are available 24 hours a day. The hotline allows for anonymous reporting. It will be staffed by Virginia State Police during business hours.

In a joint statement, Virginia bishops Michael Burbidge and Barry Knestout said the Diocese of Arlington and the Diocese of Richmond were cooperating with Herring's office.

"Prior to being contacted by the Attorney General, both dioceses began internal investigative processes using independent investigators tasked with reviewing all diocesan clergy files," read part of the statement. "We promised to publish a list of all priests and deacons against whom credible and substantiated allegations of sexual abuse of a minor have been made, and we renew that promise. We will continue these efforts and ensure it does not impede the Attorney General’s investigation."

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