Ever since the sex abuse scandal broke, governments have generally been lenient with the church, trying to give them space to clean house.
Florida’s attorney general said Thursday she is launching an investigation of potential sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic church, making Florida at least the 13th state with an ongoing statewide probe of the church.
“Any priest that would exploit a position of power and trust to abuse a child is a disgrace to the church and a threat to society,” said Attorney General Pam Bondi in a statement.
The Attorney General’s Office will coordinate its probe with local prosecutors and review records from all seven of Florida’s Catholic dioceses. It is also launching a tip line for victims.
In addition to Florida, authorities in Arkansas, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York and Vermont told NBC News they are now investigating alleged sexual abuse linked to the church.
On Wednesday, Michigan law enforcement officials executed search warrants and seized “clergy files” from all seven state dioceses as part of Schuette’s investigation, according to the dioceses.
In a statement, the Archdiocese of Detroit said it cooperated fully, and described the search warrants as “an expected part of this process.”