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Press Release

Attorney General Josh Shapiro Recognizes Child Abuse Prevention Month and Encourages Reporting

April 1, 2019 | Topic: Criminal

Clergy Abuse Hotline has received 1620 calls since August 2018

HARRISBURG — Attorney General Josh Shapiro is today recognizing the start of National Child Abuse Prevention Month by highlighting the Office of Attorney General’s work to prevent and prosecute child abuse and encouraging all survivors or people with information on abuse to contact his Office’s Child Predator Section.

“As Attorney General, I am focused on protecting children from abuse, prosecuting predators and ensuring that survivors and their families have the support they need,” said Attorney General Josh Shapiro. “My Office listens to survivors who bravely come forward to share their truth, and we will put people before powerful institutions whenever we find abuse and cover up. I am asking anyone who has been abused or has information on abuse to contact my Office—we will prosecute offenders in order to safeguard children.”

The Office of Attorney General’s Child Predator Section is comprised of specially trained agents and prosecutors across Pennsylvania who are dedicated to identifying and capturing child predators, especially online predators, before they can harm children. Since Attorney General Shapiro took office in January 2017, the Child Predator Section has made 190 arrests, including 75 arrests in 2018. Anyone who has information about child predators should contact the Attorney General’s Child Predator Section at 1-800-385-1044.

In August 2018, Attorney General Shapiro released the results of a two year, statewide Grand Jury investigation that uncovered the sexual abuse of more than 1,000 children at the hands of 301 predator priests across Pennsylvania. Following the release of the report, the Office of Attorney General established a clergy abuse hotline for anyone else to report information about clergy child sexual abuse. To date, the hotline has received 1,620 calls. The Office of Attorney General encourages victims or anyone with information about clergy child sexual abuse to share their truth. The number for the Office’s Clergy Abuse Hotline is 1-888-538-8541.

Attorney General Shapiro continues to push for the four reforms recommended by the Grand Jury to prevent widespread child sexual abuse and cover up from happening again. Those reforms would strengthen mandatory reporting laws, clarify the law on confidentiality agreements to ensure victims know they can speak with law enforcement, eliminate the criminal statute of limitations for sexual abuse, and open a window in the civil statute of limitations so victims can finally have their voices heard in court.

In an effort to ensure that all crime victims receive the information, attention, and services they deserve, the Office of Attorney General launched an unprecedented partnership with the Office of Victim Advocate in 2018. This partnership created a new position for a full-time Victim Assistance Coordinator in the Office of Attorney General. The Victim Assistance Coordinator provides direct services to crime victims across Pennsylvania whose cases fall under the jurisdiction of the Office of Attorney General, such as crisis intervention, supportive counseling, case status updates, and accompaniment to court events.

“Survivors of abuse face trauma that challenges them every single day and makes it difficult to come forward,” Attorney General Shapiro said. “My Office understands that—we want to hear from survivors, and we have resources available to ensure victims can report abuse and speak with a trained professional. Please reach out and help us take predators out of our communities and away from our children.”

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