Kathy Ruemmler, of Latham & Watkins in Washington, D.C. May 10, 2017. Photo: Diego Radzinschi/ALM

Latham & Watkins has taken over a probe into sexual abuse allegations at a seminary connected to Seton Hall University, after the school initially announced that Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison was handling the work.

The Catholic university had said in August that Paul Weiss’ Theodore Wells Jr. would lead the investigation into accusations that Theodore McCarrick, the former archbishop of Newark, and other priests may have engaged in sexual misconduct on its campus.

Theodore Wells Jr. Photo: David Handschuh/ALM

Seton Hall announced at the same time that it was retaining Gibbons employment and labor law chairwoman Christine Amalfe as a special counsel to oversee the review.

But in an updated statement from last month, the university said that Paul Weiss had withdrawn because of an unidentified conflict, and that Latham partner Kathryn Ruemmler had been retained by Gibbons to conduct the review.

The global co-chairwoman of Latham’s white-collar defense and investigations practice, Ruemmler spent six years in the Obama administration, first in the Department of Justice and later as White House counsel.

Wells, meanwhile, is known for his work defending Exxon Mobil in climate change litigation and his investigation into the NFL “Deflategate” scandal.

The Seton Hall investigation focuses on the Immaculate Conception seminary, just off the university’s main campus in South Orange.

An Albany priest, Father Desmond Rossi, went public in July with accounts that McCarrick had inappropriately pursued him while a seminarian and that he had been sexually assaulted by two other church figures while completing pastoral fieldwork at a Newark parish.

Seton Hall said that Rossi also sent the university an email in July, prompting its investigation. New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal has also announced the formation of a special task force to investigate sexual abuse within the Catholic dioceses of the state.

Representatives from both Paul Weiss and Latham declined to comment Friday. Amalfe and Seton Hall did not respond to requests for comment.

The firms are among a larger group who are competing for the surging work in internal investigations prompted by revelations fueled by the #MeToo movement.

In the past, Paul Weiss has handled investigations on behalf of Fox News into accusations against former chairman Roger Ailes and prime-time fixture Bill O’Reilly.

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