OMAHA, Neb. – Nebraska officials have subpoenaed more than 400 Roman Catholic churches and institutions in the state seeking any records related to child sexual assault or abuse.
The move was announced Tuesday by the Nebraska Attorney General's Office, which had last summer asked Nebraska's three Catholic diocese to voluntarily turn over records of child sex abuse dating back decades.
"The Nebraska Department of Justice has appreciated the voluntary cooperation demonstrated by the churches," the release says. "However, the department believes that subpoenas are necessary in order to ensure all reports of impropriety have been submitted to the appropriate authorities."
The subpoenas seek all records or information related to any child sexual abuse that has occurred by those employed or associated with each church or institution, whether previously reported or not.
A spokeswoman for the attorney general declined to comment beyond the news release issued Tuesday on the subpoenas. Phone messages left Tuesday for representatives of all three of Nebraska's Catholic dioceses were not immediately returned.
In November, the Archdiocese of Omaha released a list 38 priests and other clergy members who have been credibly accused of sexual misconduct after the state's top prosecutor requested the information. The archdiocese said 24 of the priests on that list were under its control when the allegations surfaced, but that all of those men had since died or been removed from the clergy. At least two men on the list where convicted and served prison sentences for molesting children.
The latest subpoenas in Nebraska come in the wake of other similar examinations elsewhere. A grand jury report last year in Pennsylvania found hundreds of abusive priests in that state. Catholic dioceses in more than two dozen states have named suspected abusers since that landmark report, and several states have announced they're taking a closer look at such allegations.