NC Attorney General on Catholic church abuse allegations: 'I don't have criminal authority'

NC Attorney General on Catholic church abuse allegations: 'I don't have criminal authority'

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - On Tuesday, Pennsylvania's attorney general said the Vatican knew about a cover-up involving sex abuse allegations against priests.

The accusation comes two weeks after the release of a grand jury report saying hundreds of "predator priests" had abused children in Pennsylvania over the past seven decades. The Vatican has not commented on those allegations.

WECT asked North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein about the sex abuse scandal plaguing the Catholic church. Stein was in Wilmington on Tuesday as part of a town hall discussion on home improvement fraud.

As the top lawyer in the state, Stein works to protect people from sex crimes, but he said he has no authority to investigate crimes of this nature.

"Different states do criminal prosecution differently," the attorney general said. "In our state, the way we are structured is we have local District Attorneys who can investigate and prosecute crimes. Then the Attorney General comes at the appellate level. I do not have criminal authority to go out and do a grand jury."

Stein says his office is willing to help if people feel victimized by a priest or another person of trust.

"If you have been victimized really by anyone, you can contact my office and we can connect you with local law enforcement, or if you need counseling, we can put you in touch with someone," said Stein.

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