Sorrell Comments on Diocese Investigation

05/31/02 12:00AM



(Host) Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell says his office has received allegations of sexual misconduct against one or two still active priests, in addition to the six placed on leave by the Catholic Diocese of Burlington. Sorrell made his comments last night on VPR's Switchboard.

Sorrell said of the over 20 current and former Vermont priests his office is looking into, there are few allegations that could result in criminal prosecution:

(Sorrell) "We have a couple of allegations that date back to the mid '80s and if we can get together compelling evidence to support those allegations, then there could be a prosecution or two, but that's a fair number of 'ifs'."

(Host) Sorrell said he is giving priority to allegations against active priests, but cautioned his review will take time. Sorrell was asked if there is any indication the Catholic Diocese in Vermont moved priests from parish to parish because of allegations against them:

(Sorrell) "That's a tough question. And you would have to ask church officials why some priests were moved from one church to another. I will say that from the information that was turned over to us, it appears that in some cases, there were allegations brought to the attention of the diocese, and this was quite some time ago, and the priest was moved."

(Host) Sorrell says relocating a priest because of sexual misconduct allegations is not against the law. He says current Vermont statutes should be changed to require priests to report sexual abuse to authorities. Presently the law includes teachers, social workers and medical professionals, but not members of the clergy.
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