Hotline for Altoona-Johnstown diocese abuse gets 150 calls in first week

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – The state attorney general’s office says it has received about 150 calls since the release of a grand jury report that found widespread child sexual abuse in the Altoona-Johnstown diocese.

Attorney General Kathleen Kane’s office said many of the calls to a hotline established last week were from victims, including numerous senior citizens previously unknown to investigators.

Kane’s office said many callers reported they were abused by religious leaders associated with the diocese.

The grand jury’s 147-page report alleges hundreds of children were abused by priests and other religious leaders assigned to the diocese for at least 40 years, and that two former bishops worked to cover up the crimes.

Kane said last week that none of the crimes in the grand jury’s report can be prosecuted, partly because of the state law that sets a time limit on filing most criminal charges.

However, she said the investigation is ongoing and prosecutors will pursue new leads as they become available.

“One call could change everything,” Kane said in a statement. “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.”

The hotline — 888-538-8541 — is manned by investigators who worked directly on the two-year investigation of the diocese.

The parishes of the Altoona-Johnstown diocese are located within Bedford, Blair, Cambria, Centre, Clinton, Fulton, Huntingdon and Somerset counties.

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