Dos & Don'ts When Receiving Allegations of Sexual Abuse of a Minor

DO be certain that all concerned know that allegations are reported to civil authorities. If a minor is reporting sexual abuse to a Church employee or volunteer,

  • First LISTEN to reach an initial understanding of the situation being described.
  • Remember that your role is not to determine the truthfulness of the allegation, so avoid interrogation.
  • Advise the minor that his/her parents or guardian will be called.
  • Before dismissing the minor, call the parent/guardian and the pastor/administrator. A minor should be released to the custody of his/her parent/guardian after making such a report unless the sexual abuser is the parent/guardian then the civil authorities should be consulted.

If an adult is reporting the sexual abuse,

  • Advise him/her of the need to call the parents or guardian, and to call the civil authorities.
  • Remember that your role is not to determine the truthfulness of the allegation, so avoid interrogation.

If the minor’s parents or guardian are reporting the sexual abuse,

  • Advise them that this is their responsibility to report the matter to civil authorities.
  • Advise them that you will be reporting the matter to the Diocese.
  • Remember that your role is not to determine the truthfulness of the allegation.
  • Advise them that the Diocese will follow up with them to determine that they have reported the matter to civil authorities.

In all cases it is the receiver’s responsibility to report the allegation to the Diocese in accord with #1 of the “Procedure for Handling Allegations of Sexual Abuse of Minors.”  DO NOT cross-examine or ask for details from the child; civil authorities will interview. DO NOT contact the abused; diocesan officials have that responsibility. DO NOT discuss the matter with anyone except your superior.

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