ATLANTA — Nearly four years after Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr began an investigation of suspected sexual abuses by Roman Catholic priests or other linked to the church, the special prosecutor handling the investigation tells Channel 2 Investigative Reporter Richard Belcher the final report on the investigation is expected by mid-February.
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Pete Skandalakis, Executive Director of the Prosecuting Attorneys Council (PAC), said that his office reviewed close to a hundred allegations, but he has not said whether he expects to refer any matters for prosecution by local DA’s.
Carr announced the investigation in April 2019, months after the Archdiocese of Atlanta and the Diocese of Savannah had agreed to full cooperation. The terms were laid out in a formal memorandum of understanding (MOU).
“My expectation is that it is open, that the books will be open. So long as the church is open and transparent, it will say to victims, ‘We appreciate you, your story matters, you have people that have your back,’ and I think it will ultimately lead to healing,” Carr told Channel 2 at the time. Carr noted at the time that he is a Catholic.
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In late 2018, months before Carr began negotiations for the church cooperation with the investigation, the Atlanta Archdiocese released a list of 15 priests, deacons and seminarians in Georgia who had been credibly accused of abusing children. Nearly half had died, the rest removed from the ministry or convicted, the Archdiocese said.
The investigation was assigned to the PAC. In a May 2019 with Channel 2, Skandalakis emphasized the promise of full cooperation.
“I was assured that they are going to be open with us, and they are going to allow us to follow the leads.” And he said it would not be a cursory review: “We’re going to delve into those files and we’re going to follow up on what needs to be followed up and they understood that, and they were in agreement with it.”
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The Archdiocese emailed Channel 2 that it “continues to cooperate with the Prosecuting Attorneys Council” and notes that “this cooperation is voluntary and in line with the our policy of transparency and cooperation...put forth by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.”
In a statement, Skandalakis says “PAC has completed the review and a final report is expected to be released within the next 90 days...We have strived to be as transparent and thorough as possible. We are hopeful that the final report will shed some light on these matters and be of some comfort to the survivors and their families.”
The Archdiocese says it will “continue to partner with law enforcement and prosecutors should any signs of abuse become apparent” even after the terms of the MOU expire.
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