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District attorney considers criminal charges against S.B. clergy

Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce Dudley told NewsChannel 3 on Friday that her office is considering criminal charges against some church officials involved in the sex abuse scandal.

Dudley said she met with officials from the Los Angeles County and Ventura County district attorney offices in Indian Wells two weeks ago to discuss their next move. They apparently agreed that since most of the criminal cases would involve the L.A. County district attorney, that office would initially review each case for possible prosecution. At that point, any cases that should be handled by Santa Barbara County or Ventura County authorities would be forwarded to the respective jurisdiction for further review and investigation.

Dudley said the statute of limitations would depend on the crime and whether it’s a felony or a misdemeanor. She won’t those answers until she reads through decades of church files.

A judge this week ordered the Catholic Church and the L.A. Archdiocese to release up to 30,000 confidential church documents that identify priests accused of sexually molesting children. The court order also states the documents must not be redacted or omit any names. The records may also give a clear picture of church officials who covered up the abuses to protect the priests and the church.

Dudley also make it clear they are looking for more victims to come forward.

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