Abuse & Neglect Policy
ARCHDIOCESE OF NEW ORLEANS
POLICY CONCERNING ABUSE OR NEGLECT OF MINORS
Every human being is created with a God-given dignity. Therefore, the Catholic Church teaches that God condemns all forms of abuse or neglect of people of all ages. In regard specifically to minors or to adults who allege they were abused as minors, it is the policy of the Archdiocese that abuse of minors is sinful, totally reprehensible and intolerable behavior and is illegal. Any such conduct is to be considered, by its very nature, completely contrary to Catholic teaching, Christian morality and contrary to the duties and/or employment of all those who serve the Archdiocese of New Orleans or any of its related entities. Such conduct can in no way be justified.
All who serve the Archdiocese must comply with all state laws (as well as all applicable local or federal laws, if any) regarding incidents of actual or suspected physical abuse, sexual abuse, or neglect of minors and also must comply with the provisions of this policy.
Through this policy, the Archdiocese of New Orleans takes steps to safeguard minors in circumstances described in the following provisions. This policy establishes requirements and procedures in an effort to prevent physical abuse, sexual abuse, or neglect of minors by those who serve the Archdiocese and to provide guidance to those who serve the Archdiocese as to how to respond to allegations of physical abuse, sexual abuse or neglect of minors or adults who allege such abuse as minors if any such allegations are received.
For the purposes of this policy:
1."Sexual abuse" of a minor or an adult who alleges abuse as a minor "includes sexual molestation or sexual exploitation of a minor and other behavior by which an adult uses a minor as an object of sexual gratification." Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2002. Such "sexual abuse" may also include the involvement, use, aiding, tolerating, employment, persuasion, inducement, enticement, sexual exploitation, or coercion of any minor to engage in, or having a minor assist any other person to engage in, any sexual conduct, or producing any visual depiction of such conduct, as a result of relationships developed through a position while performing service for the Archdiocese of New Orleans, and which conduct is:
a. contrary to the moral instruction, doctrines, and canon law of the Catholic Church, or the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People Such behavior includes actions that cause injury to another or may be unlawful.
2. "Other physical abuse" is the infliction or attempted infliction of physical injury or, as a result of inadequate supervision, the allowance of physical injury to a minor or the causing of the deterioration of a minor to such an extent that the minor's health, moral or emotional well-being is endangered, as a result of a relationship developed through a position with those serving the Archdiocese.
3. "Neglect" is the refusal or willful failure by a caretaker to provide for a minor the proper or necessary medical care, nutrition, or other care necessary for a minor's well-being as a result of a relationship developed through a position with those serving the Archdiocese.
4. "Caretaker" is any person legally obligated to provide or secure adequate care for a minor, including a parent, tutor, guardian, legal custodian, foster home parent, an employee of a public or private day care center, or other person providing residential care.
5. "Supervisor" is a pastor of a parish or the director of an archdiocesan office of related entity or their delegate responsible for the oversight of those who serve the Archdiocese. (cf. #8)
6. "Minor" is any individual under the age of eighteen (18) years.
7. "Adult" means any individual eighteen (18) years of age or older.
8. "Those who serve the Archdiocese" include all persons, eighteen years of age or older, clergy, religious, or lay, who participate in the work of the Archdiocese of New Orleans, whether full-time or part-time, paid or non-paid.
9. "Archdiocese of New Orleans" and "Archdiocese" include the Archdiocesan departments and administrative offices, all parishes, missions, schools, institutions, agencies, other offices under its direct supervision and any related entities.
III. DUTY TO DISTRIBUTE
A copy of this policy shall be sent by the Archbishop of New Orleans to all school principals, clergy, religious, seminarians, archdiocesan department and office directors, presidents of parish councils, presidents of school boards, parish directors of religious education, parish directors of youth ministry, and directors of related entities. They are obligated by this policy to distribute it to all those who serve the Archdiocese.
The Archdiocese will, from time to time, arrange educational programs, including but not limited to "safe environment" programs, regarding recognizing and preventing physical abuse, sexual abuse and neglect of minors. When such programs are conducted, those who serve the Archdiocese who have regular contact with minors, including clergy, will be required to attend.
V. QUESTIONNAIRE, STATEMENT AND BACKGROUND EVALUATION
1. Effective , 2003, all those who serve the Archdiocese who have regular contact with minors shall complete a statement, a copy of which is attached to this policy as Addendum . Such statement shall be completed at least once a year by all those who serve the Archdiocese.
2. Effective , 2003, all persons who may prospectively serve the Archdiocese who have regular contact with minors shall complete a questionnaire, a copy of which is attached to this policy as Addendum ______,
3. Completed statements and questionnaires shall be reviewed and, as appropriate, investigated by the pastor or the director of the office, agency, institution or related entity. These statements and questionnaires shall be maintained in the personnel file of the employee or, in the case of volunteers, in a separate file established for this purpose. Pastors and directors may choose to place these forms in sealed envelopes and place the envelopes in the employee files or file for volunteers. Due to the sensitive nature and confidential nature of all personnel files, access to these files is to be limited to pastors or the director of the office or agency, institution or related entity. Statements and questionnaires completed by clergy are to be maintained in archdiocesan files.
4. Completed statements and questionnaires are to be maintained permanently. Even when a person ceases to be involved in service to the Archdiocese, his/her statement or questionnaire is to be maintained permanently.*
5. In addition to the other requirements of this section, all those who serve the Archdiocese who have regular contact with minors shall as a condition of their service undergo a criminal background review to be paid for by their employer or volunteer parish, institution, agency or related entity,
VI. OBLIGATION TO REPORT
Any person who has actual knowledge or who has reasonable cause to suspect any incident of physical abuse, sexual abuse, or neglect of a minor by those who serve the Archdiocese shall comply with all applicable reporting requirements of state laws and all applicable local and federal laws, if any, (unless to do so would cause a priest to violate his sacred ministry), and any person shall report to the Archdiocese as follows (cf. Essential Norms, Norm 11):
1. A verbal report shall be immediately made also to the supervisor, who will report immediately to the Executive Director of the Department. As soon as possible, a written report is to be submitted to the Executive Director by the person who initially received the report or first learned of the abuse or neglect of the minor. The written report shall supply the information contained in Addendum _____, a copy of which is attached to this policy.
2. The person who initially received the report or first learned of the abuse or neglect of the minor, his/her supervisor and the Executive Director shall immediately begin consultation with the archdiocesan attorney regarding the fulfillment of the requirements under this policy and the law of reporting the matter to appropriate civil authorities.
3 Should any person wish to make an allegation of abuse of a minor or abuse of a minor who is an adult at the time the allegation is made, the person is also encouraged to contact one or more of the following: his/her parish priest, the local dean, the Executive Director of the Department Clergy, the Director of the Office for Permanent Deacons, the Vicar General. Any such persons are encouraged also to make reports to civil authorities.
4. Any person who receives an allegation of physical abuse, sexual abuse, or neglect of a minor or alleges to have been abused as a minor by a priest or deacon who is an adult at the time the allegation is received shall immediately report such allegation to the Vicar General.
VII. POLICY ON SEXUAL ABUSE OF A MINOR BY A PRIEST OR DEACON
IN ACCORD WITH THE ESSENTIAL NORMS PUBLISHED 8 DECEMBER 2002
The procedure indicated in this section shall be suspended should a civil litigation be in process. It will be followed when civil litigation is completed.
1. The Preliminary Investigation
- Within seventy-two (72) hours of receipt of a report of a person who alleges having been sexually abused by a cleric during his/her minority, the Vicar General, either personally or through his Delegate, shall communicate copies of all information received to the Archbishop and to the accused cleric. In his initial contact with the cleric, the Vicar General or his Delegate will recommend that the cleric retain a canonical advocate and/or civil counsel.
- A person who requests that the Church investigate an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor will be informed by the Vicar General or his Delegate that a written statement, called a “complaint” will be necessary for a canonical investigation to be undertaken. The complainant will be informed that it is possible to retain a canonical advocate to provide assistance.
- The Archbishop will initiate a preliminary investigation when the complaint has at least the semblance of truth, unless such an investigation is clearly without merit or the guilt of the accused cleric is sufficiently well known (c. 1717 §1). The purpose of the preliminary investigation is to acquire clear and specific understanding of the facts and circumstances of the alleged action.
- The Archbishop will immediately provide for the pastoral care of the allegedly abused person by a competent person to whom this responsibility has been entrusted. (Norm 3).
2. Principles of Conducting the Preliminary Investigation
- The Archbishop will entrust the investigation, to be “Conducted promptly and objectively” (Norm 6), to an individual Delegated to proceed with this investigation.
- The Investigation into a complaint of sexual abuse of a minor by a cleric will be conducted according to the requirements of canon law. In canon law, as in civil law, a person is presumed innocent until guilt has been proved or admitted.
- The right to privacy and the good reputation of all parties associated with the incident(s) under investigation are integral to the investigation (Norm 6; c. 1717 §2).
- During the preliminary investigation, evidence will be gathered that indicates whether or not the accused cleric committed the canonical crime of sexual abuse against a minor. Evidence will also be sought as to whether or not the alleged action is fully imputable to the cleric, that is, whether the act was placed with full use of reason and will.
- When the evidence required by canon law has been gathered, the Delegate will write a report to the Archbishop. This report will indicate the reliability and sufficiency of the evidence gathered during the investigation. It will be communicated to the Archbishop and to the Review Board, together with all the information gathered during the preliminary investigation.
3. The Review Board
The review board, established by the diocesan bishop, will be composed of at least five persons of outstanding integrity and good judgment in full communion with the Church. The majority of the review board members will be lay persons who are not in the employ of the archdiocese; but at least one member should be a priest who is an experienced and respected pastor of the diocese in question, and at least one member should have particular expertise in the treatment of the sexual abuse of minors. The members will be appointed for a term of five years which can be renewed. It is desirable that the Promoter of Justice participate in the meetings of the review board. (Norm 5)
- After receiving the report of the Delegate, the Archbishop will consult the Archdiocesan Review Board for an assessment of the complaint and the information gathered during the preliminary investigation.
- The Board will offer to the Archbishop an independent and confidential review of the complaint and the conduct of the preliminary investigation.
4. Closing the Preliminary Investigation
- The Archbishop will carefully consider the facts gathered during the preliminary investigation together with the reports and recommendations of the Review Board and the Delegate Investigator. If the Archbishop determines that the information gathered in the preliminary investigation is insufficient or inconclusive, he may instruct the Delegate Investigator to continue the preliminary investigation.
- If the Archbishop determines that sufficient evidence has been gathered to establish the possibility of a delict, he shall issue a decree closing the preliminary investigation. He, then, will undertake the following steps:
- The accused cleric is to be promptly notified of the results of the investigation (Norm 6)
- The precautionary measures mentioned in CIC canon 1722 are to be applied, i.e., remove the accused from sacred ministry or from any ecclesiastical office or function, impose or prohibit residence in a given place or territory, and prohibit the public participation in the Most Holy Eucharist pending the outcome of the judicial process.
- The acts of the preliminary investigation together with the Archbishop’s votum are to be transmitted to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. After considering these materials, the Congregation will notify the Archbishop whether it will adjudicate the case or direct the diocesan bishop how to proceed (Norm 8A).
- If the Archbishop determines that the facts gathered are insufficient to establish the probability of a delict, the accused is to be “promptly notified of the results of the investigation” (Norm 6); and the Archbishop is to prepare an appropriate administrative decree. The acts of the preliminary investigation and the Archbishop’s decree explaining the insufficiency or doubtful nature of the proofs are to be placed in the diocesan archives. (CIC, c. 1719)
- The determination of the Archbishop will be communicated to the complainant.
5. Penal Trial
- When directed by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Archbishop shall decree the initiation of a judicial penal process (c. 1718). He shall nominate a Collegial Tribunal and shall give the acts of the preliminary investigation to the Promoter of Justice, who will present a petition of accusation to the presiding judge within five (5) business days. (cc. 1502, 1504, 1721).
- The Tribunal will decide to accept or reject the petition within ten (10) working days (c. 1506).
- The presiding judge will issue a decree stating the issues to be considered in the trial and setting the time for the Promoter of Justice and the accused cleric to present and complete the evidence they will offer to the tribunal (c. 1616). During the trial either party may call witnesses and introduce proofs, documents and other information into the official acts.
- The instruction of the case will normally be carried out by one of the judges of the tribunal (c. 1561). A notary will be present during each procedural act and must notarize the written acts (cc. 483 §2; 1437).
- Evidence may be introduced into the trial by means of public and private documents or witness testimony. Public documents will be trusted concerning everything that is directly and principally affirmed in them, unless contrary and evident arguments show otherwise (cc. 1539; 1541). Under the supervision of a judge, knowledgeable and reliable witnesses may be asked about the life, morals and reputation of the complainant and the accused cleric (c. 1547).
- The accused cleric is not bound to admit the offense, nor may an oath be demanded of him (c. 1728 §2). If the cleric decides to give testimony, either spoken or written, he has the right to do so last, personally or through his advocate (c. 1725). Even if the accused cleric provides a judicial confession, complete probative force cannot be attached to it, unless other elements are present to corroborate it (c. 1536 §2)
- Respecting the right of privacy, the cleric will not be compelled to undergo psychological tests (c. 220).
- If it becomes clear to the tribunal, at any point, that the accused cleric did not commit the alleged offense, the tribunal has the duty to declare this fact ex offcio in a judicial sentence and absolve the accused (c. 1726).
6. The Judicial Sentence and the Communication of the Acts
- Once all the evidence has been collected, the Presiding Judge will order the publication of the acts. (cc. 1598-1606) The Promoter of Justice and the Advocate for the accused cleric will be given opportunity to inspect the acts and propose other evidence. When this process is completed, the Presiding Judge will decree the conclusion of the case. Normally the decree will be issued no more than ten (10) business days after the decree of the publication of the acts (cc. 1598-1599).
- The decision of the tribunal will be based on the evidence assembled in the acts. This decision will be pronounced in a judicial sentence, which must answer the questions stated in the joinder of issues (c.1611). The sentence is to be published to the Promoter of Justice and the accused as soon as possible, with an indication of the ways in which it can be challenged (cc. 1614-1615).
At present the only way to challenge the Sentence is by appeal to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. (This special procedure was established by the Holy Father on the occasion of the audience granted to the Prefect of the CDF on 14 February 2003.)
7. Executive Power of Governance
- At all times the Archbishop has the executive power of governance, through an administrative act, to remove an offending cleric from office, to remove or restrict his faculties, and to limit his exercise of priestly ministry. Because sexual abuse of a minor by a cleric is a crime in the universal law of the Church (c. 1395 §2) and is a crime in all jurisdictions in the United States, for the sake of the common good and observing the provisions of canon law, the Archbishop shall exercise this power of governance to ensure that any priest who has committed even one act of sexual abuse of a minor shall not continue in active ministry (Norms §9).
8. Acquittal and Exoneration
- The cleric will be declared to be acquitted of all charges when it is determined that the complaint is unfounded, false, or not factual, or that the complaint cannot be substantiated due to insufficient evidence.
- When a cleric is to be restored to ministry the Archbishop will invite him to a personal meeting to discuss steps to be taken to restore him to ministry and/or ecclesiastical office.
- The Archbishop will make every effort to restore the good name of the accused.
9. Just Penalties
- According to the law of the Church, a cleric who has committed an offense against the sixth commandment of the Decalogue with a minor “is to be punished with just penalties, including dismissal from the clerical state if the case warrants it” (c. 1395 §2). The particular law of the United States declares that “when even a single act of sexual abuse by a priest or deacon is admitted or is established after an appropriate process in accord with canon law, the offending priest or deacon will be removed permanently from ecclesiastical ministry, not excluding dismissal from the clerical state, if the case so warrants” (Norms §8; cf. c. 1395 §2).
- “If the penalty of dismissal from the clerical state has not been applied (e.g., for reasons of advanced age or infirmity), the accused ought to lead a life of prayer and penance. He will not be permitted to celebrate Mass publicly or to administer the sacraments. He is to be instructed not to wear clerical garb, or to present himself publicly as a priest” (Norms 8 §B).
- The Archbishop may request that the cleric freely resign from a currently held ecclesiastical office. Should the cleric decline to resign and the Archbishop judge him to be truly not suitable for holding an office previously and freely conferred then he may remove that person from office.
- The Archbishop may remove a pastor whose ministry has become “harmful or at least ineffective for any cause” (c. 1740)
VIII. POLICY ON SEXUAL ABUSE OF A MINOR BY A PRIEST OR DEACON WHO IS AMEMBER OF A RELIGIOIUS INSTITUTION SERVING IN THE ARCHDIOCESE OF NEW ORLEANS
1. Due to the canonical relationship which priests and deacons of religious institutes have with the Archdiocese of New Orleans, if a report alleges sexual abuse of a minor by a priest or deacon who belongs to a religious institute an investigation shall be made in accordance with the policy outlined above on sexual abuse by a priest or deacon of the Archdiocese of New Orleans. The policy as related above concerning allegations made against a cleric of the Archdiocese of New Orleans is applicable to religious priests and deacons as if copied herein in extenso and wherever the term in the policy refers to “Archbishop” the term “religious ordinary” is hereby substituted.
2. If any policy of a particular religious institute involving priests and deacons accused of a sexual abuse of a minor is in conflict with the policies of the Archdiocese then the Archbishop or his Delegate shall meet with the religious ordinary in order to resolve the issue.
IX. ALLEGATIONS AGAINST MEN AND WOMEN WHO BELONG TO RELIGIOUS INSTITUTES, WHO ARE NOT CLERICS, SERVING IN THE ARCHDIOCESE OF NEW ORLEANS
1. Due to the canonical relationship which members of religious institutes have with the Archdiocese of New Orleans, if a report alleges sexual abuse of a minor by a sister or brother who serves in the Archdiocese of New Orleans and who belongs to a religious institute, an investigation respecting the particular policy of the religious institute shall be made in accordance with the policy pertaining specifically to them which follows:
2. It is the responsibility of the Executive Director for Religious of the Archdiocese to investigate promptly as soon as an allegation has been received against a sister or brother who serves or has served in the Archdiocese of New Orleans and who belongs to a religious institute. It is also the responsibility of the Executive Director for Religious to notify the Major Superior of the religious institute that an allegation against one of its members has been received and to request the cooperation of the religious institute in the investigation. Should an allegation be made directly to the Major Superior of a religious institute, the Major Superior shall inform the Executive Director for Religious of the Archdiocese of the allegation. The Executive Director will also apprise the Vicar General of the allegation. The Executive Director for Religious will offer to pursue the matter according to the Archdiocesan process. The Major Superior will also be given the option to conduct the investigation following the Archdiocesan process or the process currently in place for the particular religious institute; in any case the Major Superior would be asked to keep the Executive Director of Religious informed as to each step in the process.
3. If the Major Superior pursues the matter according to the Archdiocesan Process, this investigation may be made personally by the Executive Director, or the Executive Director may request other persons, including those not in the employ of the Archdiocese, to conduct this investigation which the Executive Director will coordinate. This investigation is to include speaking with the accused, the accuser, the family of the accuser, and other appropriate persons, whenever possible. Legal advice, both civil and canonical, shall be obtained promptly.
4. If the member of the religious institute admits the allegations, or if the allegations are proven, he/she is to be removed immediately from active ministry.
5. If the member of the religious institute denies the allegations, but the allegations are serious and the evidence warrants it, the member of the religious institute may be asked to take an administrative leave from ministry pending further investigation. Further decisions concerning his/her active ministry in the Archdiocese of New Orleans are to be made thereafter.
6. If circumstances warrant, the accused may request an administrative leave of absence which the Archbishop of New Orleans may accept after consultation with the Superior of the religious institute. If the circumstances warrant, the Archbishop of New Orleans may impose, with or without the concurrence of the accused, an administrative leave and/or limitation or revocation of permission to minister in the Archdiocese of New Orleans, pending the outcome of the internal investigation. An administrative leave may be imposed by the Archbishop of New Orleans only after the Archbishop speaks with the accused and the Superior of the religious institute. Such action does not imply guilt on the part of the accused.
7. After adequate and appropriate investigation, the Executive Director for Religious shall make a determination about the validity of the allegation and shall make a written recommendation to the Archbishop of New Orleans. This report will be copied to the Major Superior of the religious institute.
8. The written report of the Executive Director for Religious may also be submitted by him/her to an independent review board for examination. This review board will be appointed by the Archbishop of New Orleans in consultation with the religious superior of the institute. The purpose of this examination is to make certain that justice has been served. The review board is to make known to the Archbishop its recommendations regarding the disposition of the case. After review of the matter, the review board will submit its written response to the Archbishop of New Orleans. This may be the review board mentioned in section VII, 3. As the review board investigating an allegation concerning a priest or deacon includes a priest in its membership, any review board investigating an allegation concerning a religious should include a religious in its membership.
9. Once this response has been received from the review board, the Archbishop of New Orleans will meet personally with the Major Superior of the religious institute and also with the accused member of the religious institute and the Superior of the religious institute and will then take appropriate action.
10. The religious institute is urged to provide appropriate treatment for the accuser and the accused.
X. ALLEGATIONS AGAINST OTHER PERSONS WHO SERVE THE ARCHDIOCESE OF NEW ORLEANS
1 . If the report alleges sexual abuse, other physical abuse, or neglect of a minor by any person who serves the Archdiocese, including volunteers other than a priest, deacon, or member of a religious institute, the Executive Director of the Department, or his/her Delegate, shall conduct an investigation. Legal advice, both civil and canonical, shall be obtained promptly. The Executive Director shall inform the Vicar General of the Allegation as well.
2. Other appropriate action may be taken to protect the accuser, the accused, or other affected persons during the investigation.
3. When allegations of sexual abuse, other physical abuse, or neglect of minors are made, the Executive Director or Delegate shall contact the accuser, the family of the accuser, the accused, and other appropriate persons, including civil authorities as soon as possible.
4. If the Executive Director deems it appropriate, the accused will be immediately relieved of any position in the Archdiocese of New Orleans and placed on administrative leave, pending the outcome of the internal investigation and any outside investigation. Administrative leave does not imply guilt on the part of the accused.
5. The Executive Director is responsible for making certain that pastoral care and solace are offered to all concerned as appropriate.
6. After adequate and appropriate investigation, the Executive Director shall make a determination about the validity of the allegation and take appropriate action.
7. Any person who admits to, does not contest, or is found guilty of an incident of sexual abuse, other physical abuse, or neglect of a minor shall be immediately terminated from service within the Archdiocese.
XI. ALLEGATIONS OF SEXUAL OR PHYSICAL ABUSE OF AN ACCUSER NOW A MAJOR
1. When an allegation of sexual and/or physical abuse is reported by a major, or someone acting on the major's behalf, which alleges that an employee, former employee, or volunteer has abused someone who was a minor at the time of the alleged abuse, but is now a major the person to whom the allege abuse is reported must immediately report the allegation to his or her Executive Director who, in turn, will report the allegation to the Vicar General. The Executive Director will retain the authority and responsibility to direct the investigation of the allegation.
2. The accuser (now a major) will be encouraged to report the matter to the authorities, if he/she so decides.
3. The Executive Director will make written recommendations to the Vicar General regarding any aspects of the matter, including, but not limited to, the following:
- even though there is no legal obligation to report such accusations to civil authorities, the Executive Director will advise the Vicar General whether or not to report the matter to the civil authorities. The Executive Director should weigh and respect, among other factors depending on the situation, the desires of the accuser(s) who is now a major, taking into consideration the right of the accuser(s) to privacy and the present status and circumstances of the accused;
- whether to suspend, terminate, or take other appropriate action regarding the accused;
- whether to hire an investigator to conduct an in-depth investigation;
- whether to hire a psychiatrist, or other mental health professional to meet with the accuser and/or the accused and/or witnesses; and
- whether to recommend treatment for the accuser and/or the accused.
4. The Executive Director will report to the Vicar General the outcome of the investigation and his or her recommendation regarding action taken and/or to be taken in the case. The Executive Director and the Vicar General will follow all other pertinent provisions of this policy.
XII. MEDIA CONTACT AND INQUIRIES
1. Any media contact or inquiries regarding an incident of sexual abuse of a minor by those who serve the Archdiocese of New Orleans must be directed to the Director of Communications.
2. Within the confines of respect for the privacy of the individuals involved, the Archdiocese of New Orleans pledges itself to deal as openly as possible with the members of the Church and the broader community about any incident of sexual abuse, other physical abuse, or neglect of minors.
1. Records maintained concerning each incident reported, the investigation, and the results of the investigation shall be kept "confidential" pursuant to Canon Law. Cf. c. 489.