Leading figures in the American city of Boston's Roman Catholic
Church will not face criminal charges for allowing abusive priests to remain in their jobs, according to the state attorney general's office.
The Church is struggling to deal with sexual abuse scandals worldwide
A grand jury convened by Massachusetts Attorney General Thomas Reilly has investigated whether the former Archbishop of Boston, Cardinal Bernard Law, and some of his senior aides could be held criminally responsible for moving priests from parish to parish when they knew of sex abuse allegations.
A spokesman for Mr Reilly confirmed that no criminal charges would be forthcoming, adding that the attorney general would present a detailed report of his investigations later in the week.
Cardinal Law resigned last December amid heavy criticism.
Mr Reilly said earlier this year that it would be difficult to indict
church supervisors for allowing abusive priests to remain
in parish work because of the weak child protection laws in place in Massachusetts when the abuse took place.
His report is said to suggest changes to prevent future abuse - including increasing penalties for failing to
report suspected abuse and getting the church and laity to
work more closely together to prevent abuse.
More than 100 victims of sex abuse have launched civil lawsuits against the Church.
Mitchell Garabedian, an lawyer for some of the victims, said he was disappointed there would be no criminal charges.
"Many of my clients were hoping that there
would be indictments so church leaders and individuals
would be held responsible," he said.
Gary Bergeron, 41, one of 54 men who say they were abused by the late Reverend Joseph E Birmingham, said: "It's unfortunate that, for all intents and purposes, men who
agreed to sanction the abuse of children throughout the
years cannot be indicted."
A spokesman for Boston archdiocese said
he would not comment until the report was made public.