By Katherine Long | Editor

The Diocese of Syracuse and the seven other Roman Catholic dioceses in the state have been subpoenaed by New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood as part of a civil investigation into handling of sexual abuse allegations.

Early details came in a report from the Associated Press.

Diocese of Syracuse Chancellor and Director of Communications Danielle Cummings confirmed that the diocese received a subpoena and will cooperate fully with the investigation.

“The Diocese of Syracuse has received a subpoena from the Attorney General and is ready and willing to work together on the investigation,” a diocesan statement said.

“A Memorandum of Understanding already exists with the local District Attorneys of the diocese which has proven to be an excellent working relationship with each of them. The District Attorneys have been made aware of any allegation of abuse of a minor and have been provided with the names of those accused along with their status and any information they may request. Bishop Cunningham will continue to work closely with our local District Attorneys and will cooperate fully with the Attorney General’s investigation,” the statement said.

A Sept. 6 press release from the AG’s office stated, “The Attorney General’s Charities Bureau has launched a civil investigation into how the dioceses and other church entities – which are non-profit institutions — reviewed and potentially covered up allegations of extensive sexual abuse of minors.

“As announced last month, the Attorney General’s Criminal Division is also seeking to partner with District Attorneys — who are the only entities that currently have the power to convene grand juries to investigate these matters — to investigate and, if warranted, prosecute any individuals who have committed criminal offenses that fall within the applicable statutes of limitations.”

According to the AP report, the subpoenas “seek documents relating to abuse allegations, payments to victims or findings from internal church investigations, according to a law enforcement source familiar with the investigation but not authorized to speak publicly.”

Cummings said the diocese’s Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program, through which independent administrators will determine monetary settlements for victim-survivors who have previously notified the diocese of their abuse by diocesan clergy, would not be affected by the subpoena. “The program is voluntary and we will have to wait and see how participants respond,” she said.

This story has been updated to include the statement from the diocese.

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