AG Kaul encourages more survivors to participate in clergy abuse investigation, declines to provide specifics on claims

NOW: AG Kaul encourages more survivors to participate in clergy abuse investigation, declines to provide specifics on claims

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MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul is encouraging more survivors of clergy and faith leader abuse to come forward as the Department of Justice (DOJ) continues their statewide investigation.

Nearly three months into the probe, AG Kaul said his office has received over 100 reports of clergy abuse, but he declined to say how many of those have been referred to law enforcement or victim service providers.

"The Wisconsin DOJ is committed to pursuing accountability and working to prevent future cases of abuse," said Kaul. "We hear you and we know how important this review is."

Kaul made the comments during a press conference in Madison Tuesday, July 20, one of several events he will be holding across the state over the next several weeks encouraging more victims of clergy abuse to report their claims.

"When survivors know there's a safe, trusted place to report and we get that information out there, people take that opportunity to be connected to someone who is providing victim services," Kaul said.

When asked how religious organizations are participating in the investigation, Kaul said cooperation with the Catholic Dioceses and the Archdiocese of Milwaukee has been "uneven" so far. Kaul didn't go into further detail but noted some of the reports are decades old.

"What we seen is that a number of reports will relate to incidents from many years ago and are outside the scope of statues of limitations," said Kaul. "When there are cases within the statute of limitations, when appropriate, we will be making those referrals to local law enforcement and district attorney offices."

The Archdioceses of Milwaukee has pushed back against the DOJ's investigation, saying they don't have the authority to look into claims of clergy abuse because it goes against the U.S. Constitution and state laws.

An attorney for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee sent a letter to the Kaul's office in June, warning him to back off because court documents on such incidents were sealed nine years ago.

“We continue to cooperate with any new allegations against a living priest, and have not received any word from the Attorney General that any have been received," said Sandra Peterson, spokeswoman for Milwaukee Archdiocese.

The DOJ will continue to gather information from survivors, their friends and family and advocates. For more information about the inquiry, visit SupportSurvivors.widoj.gov. or call 1-877-222-2620.

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