Procedure for Handling Allegations of Sexual Abuse of Minors

  1. The person receiving a report of sexual abuse of a minor by Church personnel contacts the civil authorities first.  The Pastor, Principal, or Administrator, should be notified next, who then notifies the Bishop or his designee within twenty-four hours. If the person accused is the pastor or administrator, the report is made directly by phone to 888-357-5330 after reports are made to civil authorities. In addition to the oral report, a written report (see Reporting form) is completed by the one receiving the allegation.
  2. The Diocese will take care that the allegation is reported to the proper civil authorities, but the person making the report should bear in mind that they also must report to the civil authorities as a state mandated reporter.
  3. The person accused is notified of the allegation(s) in a timely manner by the Bishop or his designee,
    • is placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the diocesan investigation. Employees will continue to receive compensation and benefits until the completion of the diocesan investigation.
    • is directed to remain away from the school, office, agency, or other location which is the subject matter of the complaint, until a resolution of the complaint is concluded.
    • is advised to have no contact with the accuser or the accuser’s or victim’s family.
    • is advised of his/her right to obtain an attorney.
  4. When a lay employee or volunteer is accused, and
    • the pastor, principal, or administrator will be notified if that has not already taken place.
    • and if he or she admits guilt, does not contest guilt, or there is a finding of guilt: he or she will be terminated immediately, and not be eligible thereafter for any employment or volunteer work in the Diocese.
    • and if he or she denies the allegation(s) and the state or federal criminal process is inconclusive or the accused is found not guilty: the Bishop will make the final decision as to whether or not the person is to be returned to duty, having consulted the diocesan Advisory Board for the Protection of Children for its recommendation
  5. When a priest, deacon, or religious is accused,
    • the pastor, principal, administrator, bishop and/or religious superior will be notified if that has not already taken place.
    • and if he or she is a religious, or a cleric of another diocese, who admits guilt, does not contest guilt, or there is a finding of guilt: he or she will be terminated immediately from diocesan or parish employment in accord with applicable provisions of Canon Law, and his or her bishop or religious superior will be so advised.
    • and if he is a cleric of this Diocese, who admits guilt, does not contest guilt, or there is a finding of guilt: the applicable provisions of Canon Law will be invoked for appropriate disposition.
    • and if he or she denies the allegation(s) and the state or federal criminal process is inconclusive or the accused is found not guilty, the Bishop will make the final decision as to whether or not the person is to be returned to duty, having consulted the diocesan Advisory Board for the Protection of Children for its recommendation.
  6. The Bishop designates, from a list of qualified professionals, a person to direct the diocesan investigation. If the accused is a cleric this person must be a priest. The purpose of the investigation is to seek out the facts surrounding the allegation(s) and thus to provide the information needed by the Bishop for his judgment and actions. This diocesan investigation is accomplished without interference into but in cooperation with the civil authorities.
  7. Care is taken throughout not only to preserve the seal of the Sacrament of Penance, but also make it clear that the sacramental seal is inviolable.
  8. The diocesan Advisory Board for the Protection of Children is informed when an investigation has been initiated and is kept carefully and thoroughly apprised of developments in a timely fashion as they arise, so that ongoing counsel is sought and provided. The Bishop consults with the Board throughout the process of the investigation and before taking final action.
  9. When the initial evaluation by the civil authorities has determined that further investigation is warranted, and the alleged victim may be in need of counseling, the diocesan Victim Assistance Coordinator will contact the family. The professional judgment of the Victim Assistance Coordinator will determine the appropriate level of assistance.
  10. The principle, fundamental in all just systems of law, that a person is considered innocent until either a regular process or his/her own spontaneous admission proves him/her guilty, is to be followed. Accordingly, every effort will be made through available Catholic and secular media to restore the good name of a person determined to have been falsely accused of sexual abuse of a minor.
  11. Each diocesan or parish employee or volunteer whose work entails contact with minors will undergo a background investigation. The Director, Office for the Protection of Children will oversee the program.
  12. Each diocesan or parish employee or volunteer whose work entails contact with minors will be required to attend the ongoing diocesan education and training program specifically directed at creating a safe environment for the children. The Director, Office for the Protection of Children will oversee the program.

Forms:

 

 

April 1, 2003

Power Point Presentations:

         

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