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Attorney General asks Nebraska dioceses for sex abuse records


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WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The Archdiocese of Omaha said it intends to cooperate with a request from the Nebraska Attorney General's office to review its "investigative records" as state officials pursue information concerning sex abuse in the state's three Catholic dioceses. State officials made similar requests of the Diocese of Lincoln and Grand Island.

A Sept. 5 press release from the Diocese of Omaha says the request was made for records going back 40 years, to Jan. 1, 1978.

"We welcome accountability in our community," said Archbishop George J. Lucas of Omaha. "The truth is good for everyone. I see this as a real moment of grace."

The Omaha World-Herald newspaper reported on Sept. 5 that Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson had asked for documents relating to "diocesan investigations of claims of sexual exploitation, including incidents of child pornography or 'sexual communication with another person given authority by the diocese to carry out church functions.'"

In a Sept. 5 phone interview with Catholic News service, Suzanne Gage, director of communications for the Nebraska Attorney General, said the office doesn't comment on ongoing investigations but because of the office's history of investigating and prosecuting child abuse and child sexual assault, "this current matter is consistent with that responsibility."

The state's Attorney General was said to be looking at decades-old allegations of sex abuse by priests in the Diocese of Lincoln. After revelations of past sex abuse by priests in the Catholic Church began in Pennsylvania when a grand jury released a report on Aug. 14 detailing the claims, Nebraska officials began looking at similar claims in the state.

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