“They have evidence,” Murphy said.
The Sun typically does not name people who say they’re victims of sexual crimes, but those interviewed for this story agreed to be identified.
Many victims fear that no one believes them, Lorenz said. So, “when the Pennsylvania grand jury report came out there, there were a lot of people who felt like someone was finally on their side and hearing their story.”
“When somebody of authority like an attorney general stands up in front of a press conference and says, ‘I believe these people,’ that’s an amazing, healing thing,” Lorenz said.
The Maryland attorney general’s staff has periodically posted notices on social media, most recently in June, encouraging victims and witnesses of abuse associated with “a school or place of worship” to report information Frosh’s office. The notices don’t specify the Catholic church. The office has received about 300 tips through a hotline and email, Coombs said.
Nationwide, more than 20 state attorneys general have launched investigations of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church in recent years, according to CHILD USA, a Philadelphia-based think tank focused protecting children from abuse and neglect.
CHILD USA legal director Alice Bohn said these investigations offer the public a window into what went wrong. The more people know “about how abuse happens, the more prepared we all are to prevent it,” not just in the Catholic church, but in all institutions that interact with children.
“The ultimate hope is for prevention,” Bohn said.
In some states, attorneys general have said they don’t have authority to investigate under their local laws, Bohn said.
In other places, criminal charges have resulted. For instance, the Michigan attorney general’s office has charged 11 people connected to the Catholic Church since launching an investigation in 2018. Four have been convicted so far.