Priest sex abuse victims ask attorney general to conduct investigation

MILWAUKEE -- The ongoing bankruptcy case against the Archdiocese of Milwaukee has taken a new turn after 100 new sex abusers have been identified in court documents. Now, a local activist group is encouraging the Wisconsin Attorney General to conduct its own investigation.

Alleged victims claim that at least 8,000 incidents of child sexual abuse were never identified by the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. Now the victims want to ask Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen to conduct his own investigation into the clergy sex abuse claims, instead of having church officials do it for him.

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, otherwise called SNAP, says the Archdiocese has covered up these crimes for decades and the Attorney General should look into it as fraud. "It should be with the criminal authorities, and it should be in the Attorney General's office, right now," Peter Isely with SNAP said.

Isely is the Midwest Director of SNAP, and spoke Tuesday during a news conference just outside the Wisconsin Department of Justice in Milwaukee. Isely says SNAP is requesting a meeting with Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen after last week's bankruptcy proceedings involving the Milwaukee Archdiocese revealed new information. "There are at least, recorded in those claims, 8,000 acts of rape, sexual assault or criminal abuse of a child," Isely said.

Wednesday, the Archdiocese is expected to file a motion in Bankruptcy Court to have its own lawyers submit a statistical analysis of the 570 victim claims, but SNAP wants the Attorney General's office to examine the evidence itself. "They're having the audacity to actually say 'we'll do this for the Attorney General. We'll do the investigation, and we'll submit some statistics.' That is utterly unacceptable," Isely said.

The Archdiocese released a statement on their website saying: “If Judge Kelley approves the request and the attorney general chooses to become involved, he will quickly conclude that what the Archdiocese has been saying all along is true – the steps taken in the last two decades by the Archdiocese of Milwaukee are a model for others in preventing abuse and creating a safe environment," Julie Wolf, Director of Communications for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee said.

However, SNAP says it wants the Archdiocese held accountable and believes that the Attorney General needs to conduct its own investigation into the clergy sex abuse claims.

Late Tuesday afternoon, a spokesperson for the Archdiocese emailed FOX6 saying the Archdiocese is "not trying to conduct its own investigation, but to accurately present the facts while respecting the confidentiality parameters set by the court."

Bankruptcy proceedings continue in federal court Wednesday.