Criminal Investigation into Virginia Scandal Leaves Questions, Few Answers

Washington, D.C. (08 July 2008) – Following American Life League’s demand for action, Michael Herring, the Commonwealth's Attorney for Richmond, Virginia, has agreed to investigate Commonwealth Catholic Charities’ involvement in helping a 16-year-old Guatemalan immigrant obtain an abortion.

“This investigation is an excellent first step,” said Judie Brown, president of American Life League. “But more questions than answers remain. Who precisely was involved? Did anyone put a gag order on these employees to prevent them from talking to the press? Furthermore, what was the extent of the USCCB’s knowledge that this tragedy was about to occur – and why did those in power do nothing?”

According to press reports, both the Diocese of Richmond and Bishop Francis DiLorenzo had prior knowledge of the abortion, which happened January 18. According to diocesan statements, Bishop DiLorenzo was erroneously told there was nothing he could do to intervene. Four Catholic Charities employees were fired in March for their involvement. Bishop DiLorenzo informed his fellow bishops of the abortion April 29 and the Wanderer, a national Catholic publication, broke the story June 13.

“Why are we just now finding out the details almost seven months later?” asked Brown. “The two victims of this scandal, the preborn baby killed under the auspices of a Catholic agency and the teenage mother who sought help and was instead escorted to an abortion clinic, deserve justice."

“The prolonged silence from the Diocese of Richmond can only lead the faithful to wonder: Is this a single incident or a recurring problem only now bubbling to the surface?”

While the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is investigating whether any federal crimes occurred, the Richmond Commonwealth's attorney is investigating whether the Catholic Charities employee who signed the girl’s parental consent form violated state law.

American Life League was cofounded in 1979 by Judie Brown. It is the largest grassroots Catholic pro-life organization in the United States and is committed to the protection of all innocent human beings from the moment of creation to death. For more information or press inquiries, please contact Katie Walker at 540.659.4942.