Dem Senate Candidate Hits Hickenlooper Over Clergy Abuse

John Hickenlooper / Getty Images

Democratic Colorado Senate candidate Andrew Romanoff attacked fellow candidate John Hickenlooper for not doing enough to investigate widespread child sex abuse by Catholic clergy in the state.

Romanoff said Hickenlooper as governor should have authorized a grand jury through executive order. His remarks came after former attorney general Cynthia Coffman (R.) told the Colorado Sun last week that she discussed with then-governor Hickenlooper turning an independent review of alleged child sex assault in three Colorado Catholic dioceses into a criminal investigation.

"This is a devastating account of children abused & justice denied," Romanoff tweeted, referring to the Sun report. "At least 166 victims—most of whom were sexually abused after the Catholic dioceses were informed about the priests’ conduct. Why didn’t Gov. Hickenlooper request a grand jury investigation?"

A spokeswoman for Hickenlooper said the Romanoff team is reading too much into Coffman's account of the situation.

"As the attorney general herself has said, she did not tell the governor that there were grounds for a grand jury investigation," Hickenlooper spokeswoman Melissa Miller was quoted as saying by several media outlets. "It's clear that further investigation is needed so we can hold accountable both perpetrators and those who covered for them."

Converting the independent review into a criminal probe by a grand jury would have given the attorney general's office much broader investigatory powers, primarily through the ability to issue subpoenas.

Hickenlooper and Romanoff are among several candidates fighting to be the Senate Democratic nominee in Colorado. The winner of their primary will face off against incumbent senator Cory Gardner (R.).