Hundreds abused by 50 clergy over 40 years but federal prosecutors undecided on charges
Altoona-Johnstown Diocese via KDKA-TV (Screen Capture)

Federal prosecutors aren't yet certain if they'll be filing racketeering charges against a Roman Catholic diocese after a grand jury found evidence that two former bishops assisted in the cover-up of sexual abuse to hundreds of children by more than 50 clergy over a 40-year period.

The Altoona-Johnstown diocese in Pennsylvania sparked further investigation when Reverend Joseph Maurizio, Jr was prosecuted and convicted of molesting two local children during missionary trips to Honduras.

US attorney David Hickton said Friday that he is looking into whether the cover-up identified by the grand jury would fall under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) according to The Guardian.

Unfortunately, the statute of limitations has long since passed on many of these criminal acts and as such no prosecution can be done, however, civil RICO statute has no time limit.

“The reason we're looking at this is that we have a federal tool here in civil RICO that may put us, and I emphasize ‘may,’ put us in the position where we could do something,” Hickton told KDKA-TV.

“I don’t want to speak to what we’re specially investigating at this point, but we have been looking at this since before that grand jury report came out and our investigation is ongoing,” said Hickton.