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Federal prosecutor reviews possible use of RICO law for Altoona-Johnstown

By Peter Smith / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

U.S. Attorney David Hickton said his office is looking into whether a federal civil law on organized crime can be applied to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown in the wake of a state grand jury report that said it had a history of clergy sexual abuse and coverup.

The report found that much of the abuse by diocesan priests dated back several decades, and neither the abuse nor any alleged coverup could be prosecuted under the statute of limitations.

But federal laws allow U.S. prosecutors to bring a civil case against an organization and seek an injunction or a consent decree to shape its future behavior, and such cases do not have a statute of limitations, he said.

Mr. Hickton said his office is looking into the case because it prosecuted one Altoona-Johnstown priest, Joseph Maurizio, who last month was sentenced to 17 years in federal prison for sexually abusing boys at a Honduras orphanage between 2004 and 2009.

U.S. Attorney David Hickton said his office is looking into whether a federal civil law on organized crime can be applied to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown in the wake of a state grand jury report that said it had a history of clergy sexual abuse and coverup.

The report found that much of the abuse by diocesan priests dated back several decades, and neither the abuse nor any alleged coverup could be prosecuted under the statute of limitations.

But federal laws allow U.S. prosecutors to bring a civil case against an organization and seek an injunction or a consent decree to shape its future behavior, and such cases do not have a statute of limitations, he said.

Mr. Hickton said his office is looking into the case because it prosecuted one Altoona-Johnstown priest, Joseph Maurizio, who last month was sentenced to 17 years in federal prison for sexually abusing boys at a Honduras orphanage between 2004 and 2009.

Sourced From –¬†http://www.post-gazette.com/news/state/2016/04/02/Federal-prosecutor-reviews-possible-use-of-RICO-law-for-Altoona-Johnstown/stories/201604020025