A special grand jury was given more time Friday to investigate priest sex-abuse allegations and how they were handled by Long Island’s Roman Catholic Diocese.
The grand jury’s term, which began May 6 and was due to expire Friday, has been extended indefinitely, “until their business is finished,” said Bob Clifford, a spokesman for Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota.
When it was convened last spring, the special grand jury was described by legal experts as the first in the nation convened solely for the purpose of conducting a broad examination of sexual abuse allegations against clergy.
At the time, Spota expressed concerns about a possible cover-up by Long Island’s Roman Catholic diocese, saying, “The time has come to investigate not only that matter, but what the Diocese of Rockville Centre has done.”
The Rockville Centre diocese serves 1.5 million Catholics in Nassau and Suffolk counties. Bishop William Murphy turned over information on abuse cases to those district attorneys in March. In addition, both the Nassau and Suffolk district attorneys subpoenaed information from the diocese.
No one answered the telephone Friday at the diocese offices.
Under New York law, grand juries can subpoena evidence and witnesses, issue indictments or find that subjects did not break the law. They can also issue reports that recommend legislative, administrative or executive changes, Spota said.