Reckoning over allegations of sex abuse in the Catholic Church reaches Alaska

Google(NEW YORK) — The Alaska Department of Law will assist in an investigation of allegations of sexual misconduct by lay volunteers and employees reported to the Archdiocese of Anchorage, ABC News has learned.

On Tuesday, Archbishop Paul Etienne announced the formation of an independent commission comprised of former law enforcement officials “to review all personnel files of clerics and religious men and women” who have served the archdiocese since its formation in 1966.

The commission is expected to deliver a report on its findings, identifying individuals who have either had credible allegations made against them or have failed to report credible allegations made against others.

“Archbishop Etienne apologizes to anyone who has been harmed by someone representing the Catholic Church and encourages those harmed to report their experience directly to their local law enforcement,” reads a statement released with the announcement. “With this review Archbishop Etienne seeks to open pathways of justice and healing for all who were abused and for the people of the Archdiocese of Anchorage.”

When reached for comment, the office of Alaska Attorney General Jahna Lindemuth issued a statement praising the formation of the commission and confirming that its office will participate in the investigation.

“The Alaska Department of Law is aware that the Archdiocese of Anchorage announced today the formation of an Independent Commission to investigate allegations of sexual misconduct by its lay volunteers and employees,” the statement reads. “The members of the commission are highly qualified and have extensive experience in law enforcement and the Alaska criminal justice system. The Department of Law has agreed to work with the Archdiocese of Anchorage and the commission during this process. Please note that all criminal investigations are confidential and even the acknowledgment of a criminal investigation may hinder law enforcement’s ability to hold offenders accountable for their actions. Because of the confidentiality of these matters, the Department of Law will not be able to provide any further information on the commission or its work.”

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