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400+ subpoenas issued to NE Catholic institutions relating to sexual abuse cases

Nebraska AG Doug Peterson.PNG
Posted at 1:23 PM, Feb 26, 2019

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Today, Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson announced that the Nebraska Department of Justice, and other law enforcement agencies issued subpoenas to more than 400 Catholic churches and institutions across the state.

The subpoenas are requesting any records related to sexual assault or abuse that happened by those employed or associated with the churches and institutions, whether or not they were reported.

The release said the Nebraska Justice Department appreciates the cooperation by churches but believe subpoenas are necessary "to ensure all reports of impropriety have been submitted to the appropriate authorities. It went on to say, "It is our goal that all reports of abuse are subject to complete law enforcement review and investigation as warranted."

3:40 PM UPDATE - The Archdiocese of Omaha has released the following statement:

The Archdiocese of Omaha is aware of the subpoenas that have been issued to Nebraska Catholic schools and parishes. We are cooperating with the attorney general’s office, and we are in communication with the attorney general about the timeline to respond and the scope of the subpoena.

UPDATE TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 26 - The Diocese of Lincoln has issued the following statement:

Today, the Nebraska Attorney General issued a press release regarding its statewide investigation of the Catholic Dioceses in Nebraska. According to the press release, more than 400 subpoenas were issued to churches and other Catholic institutions across the state. The Diocese has voluntarily cooperated with the investigation since it was announced last September, and pledged its ongoing support to stop criminal behavior by predators. The Diocese of Lincoln is reviewing the subpoena it received today.

UPDATE FRIDAY, MARCH 1 - The Diocese of Lincoln has issued the following statement:

The Diocese of Lincoln has and will continue to cooperate with the Attorney General’s investigation. However, without any notice, more than 150 subpoenas were served this week by the Attorney General on the Diocese of Lincoln and its schools and parishes. In addition to being voluminous, the subpoenas were broad in scope and demanded compliance within three days. It was simply not possible to respond in a timely and complete way in this timeframe.

For this reason, and consistent with its legal obligations, the Diocese filed a joint action with the Archdiocese of Omaha seeking judicial relief from the subpoenas. Despite having to take this step, the Diocese of Lincoln will continue to cooperate with the Attorney General to provide records and information in a timely and reasonable way.

UPDATE FRIDAY, MARCH 1 - The Archdiocese of Omaha has issued the following statement:

Today, in lieu of a contested hearing, the Omaha Archdiocese and Lincoln Diocese, including the parishes and schools which joined in the legal action, reached some agreements with the State of Nebraska. Those agreements are: (1) the State has raised jurisdictional issues regarding the action filed by the Church institutions; (2) the Church institutions have raised objections about the scope and timeliness of the subpoenas which have been issued; (3) the State and Church institutions have agreed that their lawyers will meet and confer the week of March 4th in an attempt to reach agreements regarding issues raised in the lawsuit; (4) the hearing on the Church institutions’ motion to quash or for a protective order is continued until March 12 at 11:00 a.m.: (5) the State has agreed that it will not enforce the subpoenas until after the March 12th hearing. We look forward to our meeting with the attorney general’s office.

UPDATE FRIDAY, MARCH 1 - The Nebraska Attorney General has issued the following statement:

Today, legal counsel representing the Lincoln and Omaha Dioceses moved to quash the subpoenas issued by the Attorney General’s Office.

Based on information the Dioceses voluntarily provided in the fall of 2018 in response to the Attorney General’s letter to Nebraska Dioceses, it was apparent the records produced were not complete.

As of today, there are a number of Catholic institutions that have complied with the subpoenas. Those records have contained information not previously produced. The Attorney General’s foremost concern is that these records be produced in a complete and unaltered state. The Attorney General Office has agreed to have further discussions but believes that information not yet disclosed, needs to be made available for review as soon as possible.