TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/AP) - State Attorney General Pam Bondi has launched a tip site for people to report allegations of past child sex abuse by Catholic priests in Florida.
"Any priest that would exploit a position of power and trust to abuse a child is a disgrace to the church and a threat to society," said Attorney General Bondi. "I am calling on victims and anyone with information about potential abuse to please report it to my office. Victim information will be kept confidential in accordance with state law."
Bondi said Thursday that at least 15 victims of abuse have already come forward to state authorities. Bondi said her office has already talked to the seven bishops who oversee Roman Catholic dioceses in the state. She also said that authorities are preparing to issue subpoenas in the case.
The investigation comes in the wake of a Pennsylvania grand jury which identified 301 Catholic priests who abused children, detailed accounts of more than 1,000 child victims in Pennsylvania and claimed senior church officials, bishops and monsignors helped cover up priest abuse.
Bondi stressed that if someone is being abused currently they need to call 911. Information about past child abuse by Catholic priests in Florida can be reported by visiting MyFloridaLegal.com/StopAbuse.
The Archdiocese of Miami released a statement following the launch of the tip site. It read in part:
The Archdiocese of Miami (ADOM) welcomes these efforts as it is a continuation of our relationship and cooperation with the local state attorneys over these past 16 years. The archdiocese's safe environment policy and procedures, established in 2002, state when an allegation of sexual abuse of a child or a vulnerable adult by a member of the clergy or church personnel is received, it is immediately reported to the appropriate county state attorney's office (Broward, Miami-Dade or Monroe Counties). Along with a "zero tolerance" for such abuses, the ADOM maintains its abuse hotline for such allegations and complaints, 1 866-802-2873, which is posted on the website, miamiarch.org, along with the ADOM's complete Safe Environment Policy, and the Department of Children and Families hotline number, 1 800-962-2873. All are posted under the website icon, "Protecting God's Children".
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
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