Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear is asking lawmakers to grant his office the power to request special grand juries, a move that also requires a green light from the state's highest court.
State law doesn’t currently allow for such grand juries, but Beshear is making the case for them. In a press conference Tuesday, the Democrat pointed to the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s use of a statewide grand jury to investigate allegations of sexual abuse by Catholic priests.
"It's important to note that this statutory fix, while it would allow a similar investigation, is not just about that issue," Beshear told reporters. "This step is necessary for far-reaching, deeply-rooted, and sometimes institutional child abuse, human trafficking, public corruption, and drug trafficking activity."
Beshear announced earlier this month he would seek the legislature's permission to examine the state's Catholic dioceses, following a damning grand jury report alleging the cover-up of more than 1,000 cases of child abuse in six Pennsylvania dioceses by more than 300 "predator priests."
"To rebuild the trust, we need to entrust the Commonwealth of Kentucky, the Attorney General, to go into all the files and pull them out and find out, as they did in Pennsylvania, what the history has been and whether or not anything is being covered up right now," said Rep. Jim Wayne.
Two Democratic representatives – Jim Wayne and Jeffrey Donohue – are prefiling bills to give the AG’s office the new authority. But the request may be a hard sell in the Republican-controlled state legislature, which has generally sought to limit his office’s powers.