MONTPELIER, Vt. – The Vermont Attorney General's office is poised to investigate sexual misconduct charges against six active Roman Catholic priests in the state.
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington, which includes all of Vermont, on Tuesday turned over to Attorney General William Sorrell information about 20 priests charged with sexual misconduct with minors.
Six of the 20 priests are still active, diocese attorney William O'Brien said Tuesday.
"We reviewed the personnel files that went back 70 years. I am happy to report we have no recent claims of impropriety," O'Brien said. Some of the allegations dated to the 1950s.
The most recent allegation dates to 1989 and involves one of the six active priests who is now being investigated, O'Brien said.
The list of 20 priests also includes a priest from the diocese of Boston who molested an altar boy he brought to Vermont on a ski trip. O'Brien did not release the name of that priest, but said he was in prison after being convicted of separate charges.
Over the weekend Bishop Kenneth Angell said in a letter read to parishioners that the diocese would give Sorrell information about credible allegations of sexual abuse of minors by priests regardless of the date of the allegations.
Church representatives earlier had told state officials they wanted to supply information dating only back to 1982, which the state had indicated was the earliest date of a crime for which someone could still be prosecuted.
Sorrell criticized that limitation, saying he wanted earlier information even if it did not result in prosecutions.
O'Brien said the bishop recognized the need to tell all.
"It was done with a hope and a recognition that we need to take aggressive actions to restore the faith and trust in the priesthood," O'Brien said.
O'Brien said Sorrell promised to expedite the investigations into the charges involving the active priests.
"We did so without attempting to judge the credibility of the allegations against those men," O'Brien said. "There was a determination by the bishop that the reputation of the church had to take precedence over the reputation of the individuals."
O'Brien encouraged anyone with information about sexual misconduct to report it to the attorney general's office.