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Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt. Photo: Screenshot: FOX2Now

Missouri attorney general wrapping up criminal referrals for abuse by priests

Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt is completing a dozen referrals of former priests for criminal prosecution, he announced last week.

“We issued the report about a month ago with our findings and announcing that we had the 12 criminal referrals,” he said, ”so we’re in the process of working with those local prosecutors right now, formally making those criminal referrals.”

Under Missouri law, local law enforcement, not attorney general’s office, has jurisdiction to investigate clergy abuse, according to Missourinet. Schmitt expects the referrals to be completed soon, and he is “ also letting them know that we’re ready, willing and able to work with them on those prosecutions.”

He said the 12 referrals are more than any other state attorney general. Schmitt released his office’s report in mid-September, saying that one of his top priorities has been conducting a thorough review of allegations of clergy abuse His office reviewed every available personnel record of every priest serving in the Archdiocese of St. Louis, the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau and the Diocese of Jefferson City, dating back to 1945. That included more than 2,000 priests and 300 deacons, seminarians and religious women.

READ: Former Kansas City priest being investigated by Vatican

Schmitt’s investigation uncovered 163 priests or clergy members accused of sexual abuse or misconduct against minors. Of the 163, 83 of the accused are dead and the statute of limitations has passed in another 46.

Attorney General Schmitt has said that one case remains under open investigation by the Church. Sixteen cases have previously been referred for local prosecution, and five cases have been or are currently being investigated by prosecutors, leaving the 12 cases that Schmitt’s office is referring.

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests has called on the Missouri attorney general’s office to use subpoenas and to question Missouri Catholic Church officials under oath.

–Alan Goforth | Metro Voice