DENVER (CBS4) – The Denver Archdiocese has agreed to open its records for an investigation into allegations of abuse by members of the clergy. The probe was announced by the Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser in conjunction with Archbishop Samuel Aquila.
The church will also pay reparations to victims under the voluntary joint effort.
The investigation will include a review of the records and policies of the Denver archdiocese regarding sexual abuse of minors. U.S. Attorney Bob Troyer will be conducting the investigation. It will be overseen by former Sen. Hank Brown.
The process began under former Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman and will continue under Weiser.
The head of the Denver chapter of the Survivors Network of Abuse by Priests Jeb Barrett told CBS4’s Rick Sallinger he welcomes the probe.
“When I was 17 there was a priest who took advantage of me which is a mild sort of way to put it.”
It is not a criminal investigation but law enforcement will be notified if criminal conduct is uncovered. The report should be complete this fall and will be released to the public.
One of the areas of emphasis- the assignment of abusive priests.
“This has been a time of tremendous pain, it’s been a time of tremendous pain for us bishops and for many of my priests and by the way things were handled in the past,” said Archbishop Samuel Aquila with the Denver diocese. “Helping people to restore their trust, live their faith is essential and help them have a deeper encounter with Jesus Christ.”
Among those who may be in the archdiocese’s records is former Rev. Patrick O’Liddy. He was convicted in an internet solicitation case in 2002 by the Jefferson County District Attorney’s office, and was the subject of a CBS4 report.
“The mechanism is going to be that any lack of coordination will be cited and called out in the report, therefore providing what I believe is any check and force for accountability,” said Weiser.
The investigation and compensation fund will be paid for, in part, by the archdiocese and anonymous donors identified by the Attorney General’s Office.
Representatives of the survivor’s network are welcoming the investigation but are concerned about the funding.
Barrett says his partner was abused by the clergy and later committed suicide.
“I have known so many men who have killed themselves when the memories came back and didn’t know what to do with it.”