Albany Catholic Diocese, sex abuse survivors respond to investigation

September 07, 2018 07:00 PM

ALBANY - "A step in the right direction." That's what sex abuse survivors said about the Albany County District Attorney looking into the church's records.

The Albany Catholic Diocese got a subpoena from the state attorney general's office on Thursday, hours after Bishop Edward Scharfenberger asked the DA to do his own review.


Representatives from the diocese say since 2002, background checks and training programs have improved safety standards drastically. Sex abuse survivors say there's still more that needs to be done.

"We feel it's very positive step and we're hopeful that the truth will finally come out," survivor and victim advocate Mark Lyman said.

Lyman said he wants to see legislative change as a result of the DA reviewing the church’s records.

"As victims, we're hopeful that that's going to occur," Lyman said. "We are also hopeful that this initiative will push the legislature into making the Child Victims Act a reality."

Lyman wants to see changes to the statute of limitations. He said most survivors are in their 30s, 40s and 50s by the time they see criminal action.

The dioceses agrees the legislation should be passed, but not in its current form.

"It has to be equal on all victims of abuse," Albany Catholic Diocese Communications Director Mary DeTurris Poust said. "So no matter where the abuse occurred, it has to be applied equally -- and that's not the case in the current CVA (Child Victims Act). And also, the church actually would like to get rid of all criminal statutes of limitations, which is not the case in the current CVA."

The Albany Catholic Diocese said they've made significant changes since 2002. They've done over 37,000 background checks on staff and volunteers, and over 35,000 people have completed safe environment training.

"Bishop Scharfenberger is committed to making sure that survivors know they are heard, that they are believed, that their cases get the hearing that they need and yes, that they eventually get the justice and the healing that they deserve and they do deserve that, and he recognizes that," DeTurris Poust said.

The Attorney General's investigation will likely take at least a year or two. You can find more resources on reporting abuse below.

MORE INFORMATION: Albany Diocese: Protecting children | Clergy abuse: Attorney general online complaint form or hotline number: 1-800-771-7755


Emily Burkhard

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