NEW YORK – The Archdiocese of New York has given the Manhattan district attorney a list of cases from the past four decades of priests accused of molesting youngsters.
The allegations could lead to criminal charges, at least in instances where the statute of limitations has not expired.
Neither the archdiocese nor the district attorney's office would comment on the number of cases. With 2.4 million members, the New York Archdiocese is the nation's third-largest.
The Boston Archdiocese, at the center of the child-molestation scandal that has rocked the nation's Roman Catholic Church, previously agreed to turn over to prosecutors such information. Other dioceses, including those in Cincinnati, New Hampshire and Maine, have also done so.
The New York Archdiocese said in a statement that the list resulted from "a comprehensive review of the personnel files for priests of the Archdiocese of New York covering the last 35 to 40 years."
The information included "the date and location of the alleged activity and the outcome of any legal proceedings that may have been taken, along with the status of the accused, if it is known."
Joseph Zwilling, an archdiocesan spokesman, said the information was given to District Attorney Robert Morgenthau because the files are located in his district. Morgenthau will forward relevant information to district attorneys in other jurisdictions within the archdiocese, Zwilling said.
The statute of limitations for bringing charges in child-molestation cases is five years from the time the incident was first reported to authorities, or five years from the alleged victim's 18th birthday.
In recent weeks, New York Cardinal Edward Egan has been accused of helping to hide priest sexual-abuse cases when he was bishop of Bridgeport, Conn. He has said he handled the cases appropriately.
The scandal emerged in Boston in January with the disclosure that former priest John J. Geoghan had been moved from parish to parish after being accused of sexual abuse. Since then, the Boston Archdiocese has provided prosecutors with the names of about 80 priests accused of molesting children over the past 40 years.
Since January, dozens of priests out of more than 47,000 nationwide have been suspended or forced to resign.