FILE - In this Aug. 29, 2018, file photo, U.S. Attorney William McSwain is shown at a news conference in Philadelphia. McSwain sent out grand jury subpoenas last week to Pennsylvania dioceses as part of a federal investigation of clergy abuse in Catholic churches. The investigation, which follows a state grand jury probe, was confirmed by multiple sources who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity. McSwain wouldn't comment. (David Maialetti/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP, File)

Feds: Child exploitation focus of Pennsylvania church probe

October 18, 2018 - 11:23 pm

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A federal prosecutor in Pennsylvania is taking aim at the Roman Catholic church by opening a grand jury investigation centered on child exploitation.

U.S. Attorney William McSwain is seeking a trove of sensitive documents to see if predator priests or their supervisors broke any federal laws involving the abuse of children or handling related complaints.

McSwain is a Harvard Law School graduate and former Marine sniper commander who was appointed by President Trump and took office in June.

His effort follows a sweeping state grand jury report this year that said about 300 priests had molested more than 1,000 children in Pennsylvania. But most of the complaints were decades old, and only a few could be prosecuted.

There's no clear sign that the Justice Department plans to broaden the probe past Pennsylvania. Both McSwain's office and a department spokesperson declined to comment on the investigation.

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