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Wisconsin Department of Justice receives 100+ Catholic church-related abuse claims

by Premier Journalist

The Wisconsin Department of Justice announced that its ongoing investigation has already discovered more than 100 claims of clergy sexual abuse.

In April 2021, WI Attorney General Josh Kaul announced that they were pursuing a sweeping investigation into claims of sexual abuse by Catholic leadership. During the news conference, Kaul stated that his end goal is "transparency and a full accounting and that his investigators will refer any new cases to prosecutors." This investigation will list allegations of abuse and how local religious leaders have responded to said allegations. 

Since then, victims have reported several claims of sexual abuse across several church settings. In many cases, clergy members and religious leaders were directly involved in the abuse. In contrast, others merely involved members or those uninvolved. 

While many victims have cooperated with Kaul's ongoing investigation, local religious leaders have been less included. Local Catholic dioceses were initially resistant, arguing that the decisions would "revictimize" survivors, as well as questioning why Kaul was focusing on Catholic churches specifically. The Archdiocese of Milwaukee has consistently refused to turn over documents requested by state investigators. The diocese's lawyer argues that they already sealed the records in question and that Kaul does not have authority over such an investigation. The diocese's lawyer has also accused Kaul of explicitly targeting the Catholic Church. This act would be indefensible under the First Amendment.

Wisconsin's investigation is part of a more significant trend, with more than 22 US states investigating potential claims of sexual misconduct among many denominations. 

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