Child Protection Policy
Promulgated May 8, 2003
Revised December, 2010
Revised November, 2011
Revised June 29, 2014
Revised June 29, 2015
Sexual Abuse Protocol for Clergy
Because children are one of our greatest treasures, the Diocese of Lafayette-in-Indiana (hereafter, the Diocese) established policies and procedures on October 25, 1989, to assure the protection of minors entrusted to our care and to fulfill the mission and ministry of the Church. They have been revised on an ongoing basis and what is contained herein is written in the same spirit.
These policies and procedures are formulated to be fair and responsive to the pastoral needs of all those they address. Their purpose is to facilitate cooperation with civil and diocesan authorities responsible for investigating allegations of sexual misconduct, with due care for the good name of all the alleged victims or accused. (Essential Norms #13)
2003.1 Policy: The Diocese shall provide sufficient funding, qualified personnel and facilities to assure the effective implementation of the programs established by these protocols. These protocols shall be reviewed regularly (at least every two (2) years) by the Diocesan Review Board (hereafter, DRB), which will make recommendations for amendments to the Diocesan Bishop.
2003.2 Policy: The Diocese shall offer appropriate assistance to those who may be affected by the alleged sexual misconduct of a cleric with a minor. A Victims’ Assistance Minister shall be designated to offer pastoral care to the victim, the victim’s family or other persons affected.
2003.3 Policy: The Diocese shall develop and maintain “safe environment” programs. These programs shall promote understanding and healing. The Diocese will cooperate with parents, civil authorities, educators and community organizations to provide programs to those who minister to or are part of any Church environment in which minors are present.
2003.4 Policy: The Diocese shall evaluate the background of personnel who have regular contact with minors. Specifically, it will utilize the resources of law enforcement and other community agencies. In particular, the Diocese shall employ adequate screening and evaluative techniques in deciding the fitness for ordination for all candidates to Orders within the Church (See: “Program for Priestly Formation,” USCCB, 2006, n.42-67 and the USCCB Charter, art. 13.)
2003.5 Policy: All persons associated with the Diocese are expected to cooperate with the civil authorities, comply with legally established reporting requirements and otherwise conduct themselves as good citizens. This requires all such persons to comply fully with the letter and spirit of these protocols and procedures. This likewise requires that whenever such individuals become aware of a cleric’s misconduct with a minor, they are to make this immediately known to the appropriate civil authorities and the office of the Vicar General or Conduct in Ministry Officer, unless Canon Law prohibits them (i.e., the knowledge is revealed within the Sacrament of Reconciliation). All are expected to cooperate with these procedures in a manner consistent with their particular status within the Diocese. All persons of good will are asked to relate to these procedures with understanding and sensitivity to their purpose and goal.
The offense of sexual abuse of a minor will be understood in accord with the provisions of Sacramentorum sanctitatis tutela (SST), article 6, as modified by the Circular Letter from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith dated May 3, 2011, which provides that the more grave delicts against morals which are reserved to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith are:
1° the delict against the sixth commandment of the Decalogue committed by a cleric with a minor below the age of eighteen years; in this case, a person who habitually lacks the use of reason is to be considered equivalent to a minor.
2° the acquisition, possession, or distribution by a cleric of pornographic images of minors under the age of eighteen, for purposes of sexual gratification, by whatever means or using whatever technology;
A cleric who commits the delicts mentioned above is to be punished according to the gravity of his crime, not excluding dismissal or deposition.
The Diocesan Review Board
2003.6 The DRB is established in accordance with the “Essential Norms of Diocesan/Eparchial Policies Dealing with Allegations of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Priests or Deacons” as approved by the Conference of Catholic Bishops in November 2002 and as revised in June of 2015.
2003.7 The provisions of Norms 4, 5 and 6 of that document cite the functions that the Board undertakes, as a consultative body to the Diocesan Bishop. They include:
· Advising the Diocesan Bishop in his assessment of allegations of sexual abuse of minors and in his determination of suitability for ministry;
· Reviewing diocesan policies for dealing with sexual abuse of minors; and,
· Offering advice on all aspects of these cases, whether retrospectively or prospectively.
2003.8 The DRB shall be composed of at least five (5) persons of outstanding integrity and good judgment as chosen by the Bishop. The majority of DRB members shall be laypersons not in the employment of the Diocese. At least one member shall be a respected pastor of the Diocese and at least one other member shall be an individual with particular expertise in the treatment of child abuse of minors, particularly sexual abuse. These members shall be appointed for a period of five (5) years, which may be renewed at the discretion of the Bishop. It is desirable that the diocesan Promoter of Justice participates in the meetings of the DRB.
2003.9 When an allegation of sexual abuse or boundary violation (Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People #6) of a minor by a cleric is received, a preliminary investigation shall be conducted by the Vicar General in accord with Canon Law (canon 1717). All appropriate steps shall be taken to protect the privacy of the accuser and the reputation of the accused. When the alleged victim is a minor, the appropriate civil authorities are notified immediately by the person with the most firsthand knowledge of the suspected abuse.
2003.10 If the preliminary investigation establishes that an incident of abuse is credible, i.e., an allegation worthy of belief, having informed the proper civil authorities, the Diocese will confront the cleric. The accused will be encouraged to retain the assistance of civil and canonical counsel when applicable, at his own expense.
2003.11 The alleged perpetrator will be relieved of his assignment in the Diocese and required to obtain an appropriate psychological evaluation at a facility acceptable to the Diocese, if the preliminary investigation of canon 1717 establishes that an incident of abuse is credible, i.e., an allegation worthy of belief. All resulting information will be submitted to the Diocesan Review Board for consideration.
2003.12 When there is credible evidence that child abuse has occurred, i.e., an allegation worthy of belief, the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith shall be immediately notified. The canonical measures mentioned in canons 1722 and the following shall be implemented at once. That is, to remove the accused from the sacred ministry or from ecclesiastical office or function; to impose or prohibit residence in a given place or territory; and, to prohibit public participation in the Most Holy Eucharist pending the outcome of the process.
2003.13 The chairperson of the DRB will convene its members after an allegation has been received and the preliminary investigation of canon 1717 has occurred. It will be the responsibility of the DRB to examine the results of the investigation.
2003.14 A complete written record shall be presented to the DRB of the allegation(s) against the cleric. A detailed summary of interviews with the alleged victim(s) and perpetrator shall be given in writing. Any pertinent information from the diocesan personnel file of the cleric will also be shared with the DRB. The cleric and his advocate will be informed of the material that will be presented to the DRB. The cleric and/or the alleged victim(s) may choose to make a brief presentation in person or in writing to the DRB prior to its deliberations.
2003.15 The DRB shall answer two basic questions:
1. Do the allegations conform to the definition of child abuse or boundary violation, (Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People #6), of a minor as outlined in the “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People”?
2. Are the allegations credible, i.e., an allegation worthy of belief?
2003.16 The DRB is authorized to further investigate the allegation, interview the alleged victim(s), further interview the alleged perpetrator or call other witnesses as it deems necessary and appropriate in each particular case.
2003.17 If the DRB judges an accusation to be credible, i.e., an allegation worthy of belief, the board will make a recommendation to the Bishop on the suitability of the cleric for future ministry in the Church. The accused shall be immediately informed of the results of the DRB investigation.
2003.18 The Vicar General of the Diocese will present the recommendation(s) of the DRB to the Bishop and the accused.
2003.19 The deliberations of the DRB are strictly confidential and no detailed minutes will be taken or maintained. Summary notes indicating the purpose of the meeting, the individuals in attendance, the decisions made, and the next steps recommended will be recorded and retained in the office of the Vicar General. All documents given to the DRB will be collected at the conclusion of each meeting and returned to the Vicar General.
2003.20 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.
Sexual Abuse Protocol for Religious, Lay Employees and Volunteers
The Diocese of Lafayette-in-Indiana is committed to clear and well-publicized standards of ministerial behavior and appropriate boundaries for Church personnel (employees and volunteers) in positions of trust who have regular contact with minor children. A minor is defined as a person who has not yet reached his/her eighteenth (18th) birthday, (canon 97 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law,) or an adult who is considered to be vulnerable and habitually lacks the use of reason.
Sexual abuse of a minor includes sexual molestation or sexual exploitation and other behavior by which an adult uses a minor as an object of sexual gratification. The transgressions in question relate to obligations arising from divine commands regarding human sexual interaction as conveyed by the sixth commandment of the Decalogue. The norm to be considered in assessing an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor is whether conduct or interaction with a minor qualifies as an external, objectively grave violation of the sixth commandment.
To protect minors from sexual abuse, the following measures are taken:
· All employees and volunteers affiliated with the Diocese of Lafayette-in-Indiana are adequately screened prior to beginning their duties. This includes reference checks and a thorough Criminal Background Check. If the Criminal Background Check shows a criminal conviction, it will be reviewed by the Safe Environment Coordinator, who will consult the Vicar General when necessary. Once hired or approved to volunteer in the diocese, an additional Criminal Background Check is required every three (3) years.
· All employees and volunteers affiliated with the Diocese of Lafayette-in-Indiana are required to participate in Safe Conduct Protocol Training. Once hired or approved to volunteer in the diocese, additional Safe Conduct Protocol Training is required every three (3) years; and,
· The reporting requirements of the State of Indiana in regard to suspected sexual abuse will be followed.
When allegations are raised that an employee or volunteer of the Diocese is accused of sexual abuse, the diocesan procedure is as follows:
· The person with the most firsthand knowledge of the suspected abuse will immediately report the incident, founded on good-faith suspicion, to the appropriate civil authorities in accord with the reporting requirements of the State of Indiana;
· The Bishop’s Office will be notified immediately of the accusation;
· The Vicar General and/or designate of the Bishop will meet with the person or persons raising the allegation. A written statement relating all the known facts will be prepared;
· The Vicar General and/or designate of the Bishop will meet with the parents or guardians of the minor. If possible and appropriate, a meeting will be held with the minor;
· Arrangements will be made by the Diocese to work with the minor and family in question, offering assistance needed for the adequate care of the minor. Assistance for the parents and other family members of a minor who is alleged to have been sexually abused will also be provided; and,
· The Vicar General and/or designate of the Bishop will meet with the accused employee or volunteer in question. Should the accused admit that the allegation of sexual abuse is true, the following action will be taken:
(a)The individual’s employment or volunteer work with the Diocese will be immediately terminated;
(b) The Diocese will encourage the individual to seek appropriate treatment.
· The diocesan attorney will be consulted as needed throughout the process.
Should the accused deny the allegation, which is worthy of belief, the following action will be taken:
· The accused will be required to take an immediate leave of absence;
· The accused will remain on leave of absence until a determination has been made regarding the credibility of the allegation;
· Should the accused be found guilty, the individual’s employment or volunteer work with the Diocese will be immediately terminated, and the Diocese will encourage the individual to seek appropriate treatment;
· Should the accused be found not guilty, the individual will be returned to active employment or volunteer work and lost pay reimbursed.
Care will always be taken to protect the rights of all parties involved, particularly those of the person claiming to have been sexually abused and of the person against whom the charge has been made. When an accusation has proved to be unfounded, every step possible will be taken to restore the good name of the accused individual.
Mandate to Report Under Indiana State Law
Indiana Law requires that any individual who has reason to believe that a child is a victim of child abuse or neglect must report immediately to: 1) the local Child Protective Service, or 2) a local Law Enforcement Agency. It is a criminal offense not to make such a report. The reporting person is given immunity for making the report.
Child abuse under the law includes the following, among other situations:
· Failure by a parent, guardian or custodian to provide a child necessary food, shelter or medical care so as to cause his/her physical or mental condition to be seriously impaired;
· Physical injury by a parent, guardian or custodian, endangering the child’s physical or mental health;
· Where the child is a victim of a sex offense committed by any person (i.e., sexual abuse); and/or,
· Allowing a child to endanger his/her own health or the health of another.
In addition, it is important to note that the incident reporting threshold is good-faith suspicion. The person with the most firsthand knowledge of the suspected abuse is the one who is to report the incident, making sure that the appropriate staff of diocesan associated entities are made aware of the situation.
The reporting law applies to all persons without exception.
Sexual Abuse Protocol Training
Purpose and Objective
The Diocese of Lafayette-in-Indiana is committed to preventing sexual abuse before it occurs and identifying sexual abuse once it has occurred. By raising the awareness and understanding of sexual abuse, the goal is to minimize the risks to child safety.
Personnel & Volunteers
The following personnel and volunteers are required to participate in a Sexual Abuse Protocol Training:
- Priests, deacons and members of religious communities;
- Principals, assistant principals, teachers, guidance counselors, librarians, all vounteers who have regular contact with children and staff at all levels. This includes aides, janitors, food service workers, school nurses and office personnel of all Catholic elementary, middle and high schools;
- Directors, catechists and staff of religious education programs;
- Diocesan personnel providing child care services;
- Youth ministers, directors and coaches of children’s activities (e.g., athletics, Scout troops, choirs, Bible schools, camp instructors, club sponsors, youth groups, etc.) and similar diocesan personnel who provide such services; and
- Adults assisting or supporting team, school or parish related-activities and recreational events on and off campus (e.g., drivers, parents hosting major celebrations (e.g., annual team or class party), chaperones, Bible school volunteers etc.).
Sexual Abuse Protocol Training includes, but is not limited to the following subjects:
Deadlines for Completing Training
- Appropriate boundaries and established prohibitions in ministry;
- Nature of the sexual abuse problem;
- Signs and symptoms of sexual abuse in minors;
- Laws, policies and procedures to report sexual abuse allegations;
- Policies and procedures to prevent child sexual abuse by clergy, Church personnel or others who come in contact with children on Church property or at Church- sponsored events and activities;
- Type of disclosure and how to respond to allegations of sexual abuse;
- Policies and procedures to respond to allegations of sexual abuse; and
- Internet communications with minors, policies and safety precautions.
New staff and volunteers shall attend a Sexual Abuse Protocol Training prior to employment or volunteer participation. Parishes, schools and diocesan offices will retain the signed and dated Certification and Authorization Form and Background Check Release Form that are completed by attendees at the end of each training.
Availability of Training
Training shall be available online for new staff and volunteers, with additional on-site training sessions in their parishes or neighboring parishes as needed. Training will be recertified at least every three (3) years.
Access to Online Protocol Training and Notifications of Additional On-Site Training
Directions for obtaining access to the online safe environment protocol training tool, and the dates, times and locations of additional on-site training sessions, as needed, will be listed in:
Guidelines for Communications with Minors
- The Catholic Moment; and
- The diocesan website: www.dol-in.org
With the explosion of technology use among minors as well as adults, the following guidelines serve to clarify safe measures in communications between any adult having contact with minors within our Diocese and between minors and youth ministers and teachers.
· Communication with minors must always be public, transparent and never in a form that could be construed or viewed as secretive or private.
· Parents or legal guardians must be informed of the different electronic methods to be utilized for communication purposes with minors by employees and volunteers of the Church organization.
· All communications should be minimal and only used to exchange needed information. Parents should be copied on all messages. And all messages should be Church/organization related.
· Adults should maintain separate social networking accounts for professional/Church organizations and personal communications.
· Avoid any communication which might be construed as having sexual overtones.
DO NOT REPLY to any such messaging received from minors; instead make and keep a copy of any such inappropriate communication and notify an administrator/pastor or supervisor immediately.
*Note: For more information on The Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People and the Essential Norms, go to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops website, www.usccb.org, under Issues and Actions, Child and Youth Protection.