All across the country, the Catholic Church finds itself under investigation for sex abuse and its role in covering it up. After the bombshell investigation by the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office, seven states have launched an investigation into the Catholic Church.
But one of the most Catholic states in the union is unlikely to join them. Even if Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry wanted to investigate the Catholic Church, he would be unable to do so. In Louisiana, he does not have the authority to launch a statewide investigation of a crime. Instead, criminal investigations are handled by the local district attorney.
Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry‘s office says it doesn’t have the authority to launch a broad, multi-parish investigation into Catholic Church sex abuse allegations, though a handful of attorneys general in other states are pursuing such inquiries.
Landry’s office said Catholic clergy sex abuse allegations in Louisiana need to be initially handled by local district attorneys and law enforcement in keeping with state law. A local district attorney could choose to hand over individual alleged clergy sex abuse cases to Landry, but even that wouldn’t allow a statewide investigation into multiple allegations from different communities unless all of the relevant cases were relinquished to the attorney general.
“We don’t have authority to prosecute until a district attorney turns the authority over to us,” Ruth Wisher, spokeswoman for Landry, said Thursday (Sept. 6). “The attorney general obviously has an interest in arresting child predators.”
What does pedophile priests have to do with political corruption? In Louisiana, it means that they are unlikely to be investigated. Much of the political corruption in the state is committed by the courthouse crowd. The courthouse crowd usually involves the parish district attorney. Obviously, they are not inclined to investigate themselves and they certainly don’t want outside authorities taking a look at them.
The attorney general’s office cannot investigate a crime in Louisiana until the parish district attorney turns the authority over to them. It means they cannot investigate pedophile priests or corrupt public officials. This needs to change.
After the 2019 elections, it is likely that there will be a state constitutional convention. Among the things that need to be addressed is the attorney general’s office needs more original jurisdiction. It would make it easier to investigate both pedophile priests and corrupt public officials.