150 calls made to Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown hotline established by AG’s office

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HARRISBURG, Pa. — Attorney General Kathleen Kane announced today that approximately 150 calls have been made in the last week to a hot-line that was  established for people to provide information relating to the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown.

The hot-line, which can be reached by calling 888-538-8541, is being by manned investigators who worked directly on the case against the Diocese with the office of the Attorney General. The hot-line went live last week on the same day that Attorney General Kane released the findings of the investigation and is being manned from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.

After reviewing evidence and testimony, the statewide grand jury issued a 147-page report that detailed the sexual abuse hundreds of children that was endured over a period of at least 40 years. Dozens of religious leaders and priests assigned to the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown were responsible for the abuse and some of those members were instrumental in covering it up, according to the grand jury.

None of the criminal conduct described in the grand jury’s report is able to be prosecuted at this time. That is because of the statute of limitations being expired, abusers being deceased or because traumatized victims are unable to testify in a court of law.

“The victims need to be heard,” Attorney General Kane said. “In many cases, they have waited years to speak about the abuse they suffered. We want to assure them that they will be taken seriously.”

Many of the calls have been placed by victims, including numerous senior citizens, who had yet to speak with investigators. Many stated they were abused by religious leaders associated with the Diocese and their calls have further helped to confirm the findings in the grand jury’s report.

Investigators answering the calls also are working to connect victims with counseling and therapy assistance. They have encouraged victims to contact the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape (PCAR), which works to put victims in touch with counseling and therapy services.

PCAR maintains a statewide listing of service providers for victims of sexual abuse and domestic violence and victims are also encouraged to call 888-772-7227 to find a local rape crisis center.

“One call could change everything,” Attorney General Kane said. “The right information could create a new lead for our investigators. That is why it is so important for those with information to reach out to us.”