The Wisconsin DOJ Says It’s Received 180 Reports of Abuse By Faith Leaders

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In late October, the Wisconsin Department of Justice revealed it had received 180 reports of sexual abuse in various religious organizations as part of a wide-ranging investigation into such instances.

The announcement came six months after the probe was launched.

“Thank you to the courageous people who have come forward to provide information about clergy and faith leader abuse,” Attorney General Josh Kaul said in a statement on October 27. “This review seeks to help bring healing to survivors and to help stop future harm, and we continue to encourage survivors and others with information to report.”

The Christian Post reported that roughly 80% of the reports they received had to do with abuse, while the rest related to how a religious institution handled allegations. The ages of those who reported themselves as victims ranged between 18 to 75.

The state DOJ received reports from every single Catholic diocese in Wisconsin. The Catholic Church has come under increasing scrutiny in recent years over widespread allegations of sexual abuse at the hands of clergy as well as the manner in which the church responds to such allegations.

In 2018, the state of Pennsylvania released a grand jury report which detailed how the Catholic Church’s hierarchy often worked to cover up reported sexual abuse, drawing fierce national scrutiny on the Holy See.

The agency’s website provided victims with multiple means of reporting abuse, so they could share as much or as little information as they felt comfortable doing.

“DOJ continues to receive reports online and by phone. The phone calls can provide a meaningful opportunity for survivors to share their report with a trained victim services professional. Many survivors have chosen to speak at length about their experience with a DOJ victim services professional, with some calls lasting more than two hours,” the DOJ said.

Once the agency receives a report of abuse, they then work with law enforcement and prosecutors to review the allegations, a process which can take several months.

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