Bishop's Letter

Letter from Bishop Braxton
September, 2007
Exultation of the Holy Cross

My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

The Catholic Bishops in the United States have collectively committed themselves to creating safe environments for children and to take seriously our responsibility that the abuse that occurred in the past will not happen again. My first expression of that commitment as BIshop of Belleville was to go through the Initial Child Protection Training Program and to complete the other components of The Child Protection Policy in the Diocese shortly after my Installation. I appreciate your willingness to go through this process as well and I ask you to enthusiastically support it.

The Diocese of Belleville has created and implanted a program which includes protection from all forms of abuse (sexual, physical, and emotional) and neglect by any clergy, religious or lay person who is working or volunteering under the auspices of the Diocese. The program includes education for all individuals who have substantial contact with children, as well as completing applications, reference checks, and background checks. The program also provides education for the children in our Catholic Schools and Parish Education Programs that will encourage children to say no, to run, to tell and to keep telling if they find themselves in an abusive situation.

When children are victims of abuse it deeply saddens all of us. In Pope Benedict XVI's first encyclical letter, Deus Caritas Est, he reflects on the Christian love that we should have for one another, in part by showing respect for every human being. We use this as an opportunity to think about the great gift of love, the dignity of the human person and the gift of sexuality that God has given us. These gifts were not intended to bring harm to our most vulnerable through exploitation.

I encourage anyone who has suspicions that abuse is occurring to contact the Department of Children and Family Services at 800-252-2873. I also urge anyone who has been abused by someone in the name of the church to contact the Department of Children and Family Services, as well as the Victim Assistance Coordinator, Mrs. Lynn Muscarello, at 618-212-1201, or the Diocesan Review Board at 800-640-3044.

I am most grateful for the service that each of you are providing in the Diocese of Belleville to help bestow our Catholic morals and teachings in the children and youth that we serve. Each of you is helping to build up the Body of Christ and the Catholic Church in Southern Illinois by strengthening it through faith, hope, love, and service. Once again, I express my sorrow for the terrible harm that has been done to children and will do all I can to see that no further harm takes place in the years to come.

Sincerely yours in Christ,
+Edward K. Braxton
Bishop of Belleville

Safe Environment Compliance

Mission

To educate clergy, employees and volunteers in the Diocese of Belleville on how to prevent child sexual abuse, how to recognize sex offender behaviors, and how to create safe environments for children and young people in our parishes, schools and community.

History

The Office of  Child Protection for the Diocese of Belleville was created to ensure compliance with Articles 6, 12, and 13 of the USCCB Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. The Charter set forth that all dioceses/eparchies were to have clear and well-publicized standards of behaviors and boundaries (Article 6), maintain safe environment programs for all children and adults (Article 12), and evaluate the background of all lay employees, clergy, and all volunteers who would have contact with children (Article 13).

Over the years, the Office of Child Protection has become a resource to parishes and schools who share the Diocese’s commitment to protecting children and young people.

Services

  • Initial Child Protection training
  • Annual online child protection refresher training
  • Safe Environment training for children
  • Site Administrator training
  • Fingerprint Results
  • Monitoring of the Criminal Background Check System
  • Mandated Reporter training
  • Provide oversight for compliance with the USCCB Charter to elementary schools, high schools, and  parishes.

Child Protection Policy

Bishop's Letter

Table of Contents

Introduction  
Section 1: Definitions
Section 2: Education
Section 3: Applications and Background Checks
  Personnel and Volunteers
Section 4: Background and Reference Checks:
  Religious Men and Women
Section 5: Civil Reporting Requirements
Section 6: Diocesan Reporting Requirements
Section 7: Internal Diocesan Procedures
Section 8: Diocesan Responses to False Allegations
Section 9: Pastoral Care and Victim Assistance
Section 10: Communication
Section 11: Measuring Progress and Accountability
Appendix A  
Appendix B  


INTRODUCTION

All children have the right to be safe and protected from harm in any and all environments- home, school, religious institutions, neighborhoods and communities. The Catholic Diocese of Belleville (the "Diocese") embraces this right to safety and is dedicated to promoting and ensuring the protection of all children. The Diocese will do all in its power to create a safe environment for children and young people, to prevent their physical abuse, sexual abuse and neglect and to bring the healing ministry of the Diocese to bear wherever possible. It is the expectation of the Diocese that all individuals and entities under its auspices comply with the provisions stated in this policy.

This Child Protection Policy (the "Policy") builds on a 1990 policy issued by the Diocese that was updated in 1993 with an additional policy document regarding clerical sexual misconduct with minors. This Policy continues and expands our concern for children and reflects the provisions contained in the revised Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People (approved by the full body of U.S. Catholic Bishops at its November 2002 General Meeting)and the Essential Norms for Diocesan/Eparchial Policies Dealing with Allegations of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Priests or Deacons (approved by the Congregation for Bishops December 8, 2002).

With renewed faith, we recommit ourselves to the original goals of this Policy:

a. to reiterate and strengthen educative and screening procedures toward the goal of preventing child abuse;

b. to identify and observe reporting requirements to civil and Diocesan authorities;

c. to address the spiritual, physical and emotional care of the abused child and the family, as well as the affected Catholic community;

d. to address the spiritual, physical and emotional care of the individual against whom the charge was made; and

e. to address other actions to be taken when child abuse is alleged.

1 Definitions

The following are definitions used for the purposes of this Policy.

1.1 Accused

An individual charged with or alleged to have committed an act of abuse or neglect, a serious violation of this Policy or a crime.

1.2 Administrative Leave

Relieving the accused of assigned duties pending further notice from the Vicar General.

1.3 Appropriate Monitoring

Ongoing, in-person monitoring of the conduct and performance of individuals with provisional status (see Section 1.13) and individuals who are pursuing status as personnel (see Section 1.4), but who have yet to complete the requisite clearance procedures. Individuals who serve as monitors are designated this responsibility by the local parish, school or agency office after they have received clearance through a background check, criminal records check and the required Child Protection training. An exception is made for priest-penitent confidentiality.

1.4 Background Check

The verification of information provided on Application for Employment or Application for Volunteer Service, including a minimum of three reference contacts.

1.5 Child, Children or Young People

Any individual under the age of eighteen (18).

1.6 Child Abuse

Consists of any of the following:

a. Sexual Abuse includes any act or interaction whether it involves genital or physical contact, with or without consent, even if initiated by the child, which involves sexual contact, molestation or sexual exploitation of a child by a parent or any other individual who has permanent or temporary care or custody or responsibility for supervision of a child, whether physical injuries are sustained or not, to include:

1. The intentional touching of the genitals or intimate parts including the female breast, the genital area, groin, inner thigh and buttocks of a child or of a perpetrator by a child for purposes of sexual arousal or gratification;

2. Rape, sexual intercourse (vaginal or anal), oral/genital, oral/anal contact;

3. The intentional touching and/or displaying of one s own genitals or intimate parts including the female breast, the genital area, groin, inner thigh and buttocks in the presence and view of a child for purposes of sexual arousal or gratification;

4. Permitting, causing, encouraging or assisting in the depiction of or posing for viewing by any individual, either in person or by way of graphic means including digital or photographic image of the partially or fully unclothed body of a child, displaying intimate parts, in motion or not in motion, alone or with other individuals, or the depiction of a child in apparent observation of sex acts by others in the child s presence; and/or

5. Displaying or distributing to a child any picture, photograph, book, pamphlet, digital image, movie or magazine the cover or content of which is principally made of descriptions or depictions of sex acts or contact, or which consists of pictures of nude or partially denuded figures posed or presented in a manner which the average individual applying contemporary community standards would find, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest.

b. Physical Abuse includes any act which

1. Willfully causes or inflicts physical injury to a child or

2. Willfully causes mental injury or psychological injury to a child by intentionally engendering fear of physical injury to that child.

3. Physical abuse does not include the appropriate physical restraint of a child who is attempting to injure another individual or his/herself, or the appropriate physical direction of a child away from danger or the minimum restraint necessary to place a child in "time out" or other appropriate limitation of movement to promote the child s regaining of safety and emotional control.

It should be noted that it is the policy of the Diocese that corporal punishment of a child is prohibited.

c. Neglect includes:

1. Abandonment of a child by a parent or other adult with custodial responsibilities;

2. Lack of care by not providing appropriate and necessary food, shelter, clothing and education; and/or

3. Not providing care or control in respect to physical or emotional health; the refusal or inability to discharge parental or custodial obligations; and expressions of intention by parent, guardian or institution to discontinue care.

1.7 Credible Accusation

An allegation that, based upon the facts of the case, meets one or more of the following thresholds:

a. Believable and plausible;

b. Reasonable and probable;

c. Corroborated with other evidence or another source; and/or

d. Acknowledged/admitted to by the accused.

In making this determination, consideration should be given to the trustworthiness of the source.

1.8 Criminal History Checks for Paid Employees

Checks consist of Sexual Misconduct Questionnaire, Child Abuse and Neglect Tracking System (CANTS), and State Conviction Information Name Check Request. If residing in the State of Illinois for less than five (5) years, a National or prior or current State Criminal Background Check must be completed.

1.9 Criminal History Checks for Volunteers

Checks consist of Sexual Misconduct Questionnaire and Child Abuse and Neglect Tracking System (CANTS). If residing in the State of Illinois for less than five (5) years, a National or prior or current State Criminal Background Check must be completed.

1.10 Exempt Status

Priests, deacons, religious men and women, volunteers and/or visitors to the Diocese who have temporary assignments and perform duties that are of limited duration and scope in both time and exposure to children. In lieu of personnel clearances, appropriate monitoring is provided and exempt status individuals are not left unattended in the presence of a single child.

1.11 Personnel

Priests, religious men and women, deacons, employees, contract workers and volunteers associated with a parish, school or agency under the auspices of the Diocese who have substantial contact with children.

1.12 Permanent or Temporary Care or Custody or Responsibility for Supervision of a Child

Includes all personnel or any adult who has been given responsibility for temporary care or supervision of a child. The passing of responsibility may be by a parent or other adult with custodial responsibility, regardless of duration, for a parish, school or agency related activity.

1.13 Provisional Status

Personnel and volunteers (as defined in Sections 1.11 and 1.16) of parishes, schools and/or agencies who have completed background checks and Criminal History Record Checks, and the law enforcement review of the latter is pending, can obtain "provisional status" from the Human Resources Office or appropriate parish, school or agency office. In lieu of personnel clearances, appropriate monitoring is provided and provisional status individuals are not left unattended in the presence of an individual child.

1.14 Religious Men and Women

Any man or woman who pronounce public vows and lead a life in common with the other members of the institute.

1.15 Substantial Contact

Contact with children in which the duration and scope in both time and exposure to children is neither trivial nor limited and may occur on a routine and/or ongoing basis (i.e., more than one day a month).

1.16 Volunteer

An individual who provides without compensation an ongoing service or activity that is arranged through or by the parish, school and agency and who has substantial contact with children as that term is defined within Section 1.15.

2 Education

Principle

The Diocese is committed to preventing child abuse before it occurs and to identifying child abuse once it has occurred. By raising the awareness and understanding of abuse issues among priests, deacons, religious men and women, employees, contract workers, volunteers and other adults who work with or have substantial contact with children under the care of a parish, school or agency and by increasing their knowledge and ability to deal effectively with child abuse issues once they arise, risks to child safety can be greatly reduced. By educating children on how to be safe and stay safe, the Diocese will enhance the ability of children to protect themselves and encourage an environment that allows children to communicate any potential endangerment.

2.1 Purpose and Objective

This Policy applies to the programs that provide specific training in the prevention, recognition and reporting of child abuse that are developed and/or offered by the Diocese and is:

a. Required of all personnel directly involved or in contact with children;

b. Required of all children who participate in activities, services and programs under the auspices of Diocese; and

c. Recommended of parents and other adults with custodial responsibilities who participate or have children who participate in activities, services and programs under the auspices of Diocese.

The objectives of these programs are designed to prevent, recognize and appropriately report child abuse through educational programs, such as seminars, workshops and meetings, provided by the Diocese and completed by all personnel who have substantial contact with children, on an annual basis.

2.2 Personnel

The following personnel shall participate in an annual education program on child abuse specifically designed to address their area of service:

a. All priests, deacons and religious men and women;

b. All principals, assistant principals, teachers, guidance counselors, librarians, all volunteers and personnel at all levels, including aides, janitors, food service workers, school nurses and office personnel of all Catholic elementary, middle and high schools;

c. All directors, catechists and staff of religious education programs;

d. All personnel providing child care services; and

e. All youth ministers, directors/coaches of children s activities (i.e. athletics, scout troops, choir, etc.) and similar personnel who provide such services.

The Vicar General shall have the authority to direct additional personnel (other than those specified in a-e) to attend the annual education programs.

2.3 Educational Curriculum

Priests, deacons and religious men and women shall attend scheduled training sessions that include but are not limited to the following subjects:

a. Appropriate boundaries and established prohibitions in ministry;

b. Nature of the child abuse problem;

c. Signs and symptoms of abuse in children;

d. Laws, policies and procedures to report abuse allegations;

e. Policies and procedures to prevent child abuse;

f. Policies and procedures to prevent child abuse on any Church-owned property or at Church-sponsored events and activities;

g. Types of disclosure and how to respond appropriately;

h. Policies and procedures to respond to allegations of abuse;

i. Ministering to adults and children about the prevention of abuse and exploitation;

j. Ministering to victims of abuse; and

k. Penitential privilege and seal of the confessional.

Children shall attend scheduled training sessions that include but are not limited to the following subjects:

a. Basic safety skills;

b. Recognition of dangerous and abusive situations;

c. Appropriate and inappropriate physical contact and other interpersonal boundary violations;

d. Ability to say "no" to unwanted situations;

e. Ability to identify trusting adults with whom to speak;

f. Importance of disclosure if inappropriate or unwanted actions are directed to self or others; and

g. Recognition that abusive situations are never the fault of the child.

Personnel and volunteers shall attend scheduled training sessions that include but are not limited to the following subjects:

a. Appropriate boundaries and established prohibitions in ministry;

b. Nature of the abuse problem in children;

c. Signs and symptoms of abuse in children;

d. Laws, policies and procedures to report child abuse allegations;

e. Policies and procedures to prevent child abuse;

f. Policies and procedures to prevent child abuse on any Church-owned property or at Church-sponsored events and activities;

g. Types of disclosure and how to respond appropriately; and

h. Policies and procedures to respond to allegations of abuse.

Parents and other adults with custodial responsibilities will be strongly encouraged to attend scheduled training sessions that include but are not limited to the following subjects:

a. Appropriate boundaries and established prohibitions in ministry;

b. Nature of the abuse problem in children;

c. Signs and symptoms of abuse in children;

d. Policies and procedures to prevent child abuse;

e. Policies and procedures to prevent abuse on any Church-owned property or at Church-sponsored events and activities;

f. Policies and procedures to reporting child abuse allegations;

g. Types of disclosure and how to respond appropriately;

h. Policies and procedures to respond to allegations of abuse;

i. Conversations between parents and other adults with custodial responsibilities and children regarding a child s personal safety; and

j. Strategies for protecting children from potential abuse.

2.4 Deadlines for Completing Training

New personnel and volunteers who will have substantial contact with children shall enroll in appropriate preventive education programs (as specified in Section 2.3) at the earliest possible date and no later than ninety (90) days following the assumption of their duties. This requirement may be extended, voluntarily, to personnel and volunteers who do not work directly or have any contact with children.

Pastors/parish life coordinators, principals and agency directors will ensure that all personnel required to receive training do so within the requisite time period or are removed from contact with children for failure to attend an appropriate training program. Parishes, schools and agency offices will maintain lists of those who have completed the training requirement. Copies of attendance records will be forwarded to the Human Resources Department of the Diocese to the attention of the Director of the Office of Child Protection (See Section 9.2).

2.5 Availability of Training

Training shall be available at both the local parish, school or agency level and Diocesan organizational level. New personnel and volunteers may:

a. Attend a regularly scheduled training session in the Diocese, parish, school or agency;

b. Complete training through online web-based training courses (first year training requisite excepted); or

c. Arrange for individual training if no other training is available.

2.6 Educational Programs for Students in Parochial Schools and Religious Education Programs

The Director of Education will ensure that age-appropriate abuse prevention education programs are available at both the elementary (K 6th grade) and middle/secondary (7th 12th grade) levels.

Such programs shall be provided annually to children in all grades of every parochial school in the Diocese, as well as children participating in parish religious education programs.

2.7 Assessment and Evaluation of Educational Efforts

With a view toward assessing the progress of the educational efforts called for by this Policy, records shall be kept of:

a. The number of training courses offered;

b. The number of training courses attended by

1. Any priest or deacon;

2. Personnel;

3. Religious men and women;

4. Volunteers;

5. Parents or other adults with custodial responsibilities; and

6. Children.

c. The number of web-based training courses;

d. The number of attendees requesting additional training or assistance;

e. Proportion of personnel and volunteers trained by deadlines as set forth within Section 2.4; and

f. Participant evaluations of training content and learning opportunities.

3 Applications and Background

Checks: Personnel and Volunteers

Principle

The Diocese recognizes that criminal history record checks are a critical element in ensuring the safety of children and protecting them from inappropriate actions or behaviors of others. Therefore, all personnel and volunteers who will come into substantial contact with children (as that term is defined within Section 1.15) while working or volunteering for any parish, school or agency and/or program will undergo the relevant state and federal Criminal History Record Checks (see Sections 1.8 and 1.9).

3.1 Completion of Clearance Requirements

The pastor, parish life coordinator, principal or agency director will ensure that all employees and volunteers in the parish, school or agency have submitted the appropriate Application for Employment or Application for Volunteer Services and submitted a completed Criminal History Record Check.

Personnel and volunteers who have completed clearance information and are awaiting return of a Criminal History Record Check can be granted provisional status by the Diocesan Human Resources Department or the appropriate parish, school or agency. Such individuals shall be appropriately monitored and not left unattended in the presence of children until clearances are received and approved by the Diocesan Human Resources Department or the appropriate parish, school or agency personnel office.

The Diocesan Human Resources Department or the appropriate parish, school or agency personnel office will review all background check results and Criminal History Record Check results, notify the pastor, parish life coordinator, principal or agency director of any unsuitable applicants, and maintain a list of all persons who have been refused employment or not allowed to provide volunteer services due to background investigation.

3.2 Applicants for Employment or Volunteer Services

All applicants for any position identified in Section 3.2 (a-d) and current personnel and volunteers of any parish, school or agency who have substantial contact with children (as that term is defined within Section 1.15) shall complete and have returned to the Diocesan Human Resources Department or the appropriate parish, school or agency personnel office the Application for Employment or Application for Volunteer Services. In addition, all applicants and current personnel and volunteers will have submitted to a Criminal History Record Check. Employment or acceptance of volunteer services is contingent upon a favorable result of the Criminal History Record Checks.

a. All principals, assistant principals, teachers, contract workers who have substantial contact with children, guidance counselors, librarians, employees (i.e. clerical, teacher aides, maintenance, food service) and all volunteers of all elementary, middle and high schools under the auspices of the Diocese and/or any parish(es);

b. All directors, coordinators, catechists and staff of religious education programs and all teachers of religious education;

c. All persons providing child care services through any parish, school or agency and/or other Catholic organizations; and

d. All youth ministers, directors/coaches of children s activities (i.e. athletics, scout leaders, choir, etc.) and similar personnel having substantial contact with children (as that term is defined within Section 1.15) and who provide such services through any parish, school or agency.

3.3 Authority of Vicar General

The Vicar General shall have the authority to designate additional personnel or volunteers who shall be required to complete and return the Application for Employment or Application for Volunteer Services and submit to a fully executed Criminal History Record Check.

3.4 Review and Approval by Diocesan Human Resources Department

Completed applications and Criminal History Record Checks shall be reviewed by the Diocesan Human Resources Department or appropriate parish, school or agency personnel office and, as appropriate, may be investigated by the Vicar General. Should an investigation due to information discovered in the application/reference check, criminal history record checks or at any other point in the screening process be deemed necessary by the Vicar General, the pastor, parish life coordinator, principal or agency director will be contacted immediately. In the event of a finding on the conviction information on the name check request, a conviction information fingerprint check must be completed.

The pastor, parish life coordinator, principal or agency director will contact the prospective employee or volunteer to clarify questions or findings and will provide a copy of the information discovered in the investigation to the prospective employee or volunteer, if such information disqualifies the prospective employee or volunteer. In addition, written documentation of the inquiry will be sent to the Vicar General. Employment or volunteer services may commence only after written approval from the Diocesan Human Resources Department. Applications and Criminal History Record Checks shall be maintained in the files of the Diocese with access limited only to the Bishop's designee(s).

3.5 Updating Clearance Information

Personnel and volunteers may be required periodically to complete and return to the Diocesan Human Resources Department or the appropriate parish, school or agency personnel office an updated Application for Employment or Application for Volunteer Services and Criminal History Record Checks.

4 Background and Reference

Checks: Religious Men and Women

Principle

The Diocese recognizes that background checks are a critical element in ensuring the safety of children and protecting them from inappropriate influences. Therefore, all priests, deacons and religious men and women who come into substantial contact with children (as that term is defined within Section 1.15) while working for a parish, school or agency will undergo the Criminal History Record Check. It is the responsibility of the Vicar General to ensure that all priests, deacons and religious men and women have completed the appropriate applications prior to beginning their work with children.

4.1 Members of Religious Men and Women Who Are Within the Diocese of Belleville

All superiors of religious men and women proposing names of individual religious men and women for ministry or residence in parishes, schools, agencies and/or other Diocesan institutions, as well as those simply requesting parochial faculties within the Diocese, are required to state clearly in writing to the Vicar General that there is no history which would render the individual unsuitable to work with children. A religious superior must state in writing that he/she has reviewed employment and Criminal History Records of the individual proposed for the previous ten years.

The Vicar General will review all background check results. The Diocese will maintain a list of all priests, deacons and religious men and women within the Diocese who have been refused employment or not allowed to provide services due to background investigation and will provide a copy of the information discovered in the investigation to the individual. Additionally, all such individuals are expected to abide by this Policy should allegations of sexual misconduct with children be made against any priest, deacon or any religious man or women while serving a parish, school or agency.

4.2 Priests from Other Dioceses Who Are Within the Diocese of Belleville

Bishops of priests and deacons from other Dioceses ministering or residing in a parish, school or agency, as well as any individual requesting faculties within the Diocese, are required to present the same written assurances and background checks and are required to adhere to this Policy and the guidelines for transfers outlined in the Essential Norms.

4.3 Applicants for Priesthood or Permanent Diaconate Within the Diocese of Belleville

Individuals making application for the priesthood or the permanent diaconate, as well as priests seeking incardination, shall be required to complete the Application for Employment or Application for Volunteer Services, complete Criminal History Record Checks, including a National Criminal Fingerprint Check, and state in writing that they have no history which would render them unsuitable to work with children. Additionally, all of the above shall receive psychological testing and background checks in an effort to determine that they are suitable to work with children.

4.4 Guidelines for Granting Residence or Ministry to Extern Religious Men and Women

No pastor, parish life coordinator, associate pastor or director of any parish, school or agency within the Diocese is permitted to grant residence or full-time or part-time or regular weekend ministry to an extern priest, deacon or a religious man or woman until a letter has been received from the Vicar General assuring that the required Criminal History Record Checks have been obtained and are consistent with the Diocese criminal-free history requirements.

4.5 Provisional Status

Individuals who have completed background checks, but are awaiting the return of the Criminal History Record Checks, will be appropriately monitored and not left unattended in the presence of a child until clearances are received and approved by the Vicar General.

4.6 Waivers of Comprehensive Clearance Information

Individuals who seek exempt status as an extern priest, deacon or a religious man or woman and whose roles will be limited in scope and duration to preclude substantial contact with children (as that term is defined within Section 1.15) shall provide the Vicar General with written assurances from the host institution, as well as formal self-declarations of criminal-free histories, in order to be considered eligible for any service in which contact with children may occur or is possible. Moreover, the Diocese shall remain vigilant in each of these situations. The Vicar General shall provide formal approval of each instance in which requisite clearance procedures are waived. Approval shall be obtained prior to any involvement in any parish, school or agency.

5 Civil Reporting Requirements

Principle

The Diocese recognizes that the protection of children is a responsibility shared by the entire community, including the Church, parents, teachers, healthcare professionals, public safety officials, public and private social services agencies and the general public. The Diocese is committed to working with civil authorities to protect children by preventing child abuse and neglect, reporting alleged incidents of abuse or neglect, cooperating in investigations of allegations and any resultant judicial proceedings, as well as advising victims of their right to report independently and supporting their exercise of that right, as specified in the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. The Diocese will act in accordance with standards that will at all times comply with those of civil law, and this Policy will be reviewed annually by the Vicar General in conjunction with the Diocesan Review Board and the Diocesan Child Protection Board to ensure consistency with changes in civil law.

5.1 Who Must Report?

Any personnel who, in the course of performing employment or volunteer activities, makes observations or is presented with information that leads the individual to believe or suspect that any child has been the victim of physical abuse, sexual abuse or neglect, shall make a report to the appropriate civil authorities. The sole exception is that ordained priests shall not report any information subject to the priest-penitent privilege.

5.2 What Must be Reported?

Any suspected physical abuse, sexual abuse or neglect of a child shall be reported as soon as practical, regardless of where the incident occurred. Past incidents of sexual abuse that are alleged to have occurred when the victim was a child, even if the victim is now an adult, also must be reported.

5.3 To Whom Should Reports be Made?

Under Illinois law, alleged abuse or neglect must be reported to the State via the State Central Register Hotline (1-800-25-ABUSE or 1-800-252-2873). Based upon certain criteria, the Hotline worker will determine whether or not to accept a report and initiate an investigation. If the Hotline worker accepts the report, the individual making the report will be required to complete a written confirmation of the report within twenty-four (24) hours on the appropriate form. If the Hotline worker does not accept the report, the Hotline worker will explain the basis for that decision.

5.4 What Specific Information Should be Reported?

The individual making a report should provide as much information as possible. He/she should not conduct an investigation in order to obtain more information than is readily available. The following information should be reported to the extent it is known:

a. Name, address and age of the child;

b. Name and address of the child s parent or adult with custodial responsibility;

c. Whereabouts of the child;

d. Nature and extent of the alleged maltreatment and any past history of injury possibly occurring from abuse or neglect;

e. Name, address and whereabouts of the individual or individuals suspected of perpetrating the abuse or neglect, if known; and

f. Any other information which might help to determine the cause of the suspected abuse or neglect or the identity of the individual responsible.

5.5 Reporting by Victims

In addition to making a report, individuals shall inform the adult of an alleged victim or the parent or adult with custodial responsibility of an alleged child victim of his/her right to report to the appropriate civil authority. Individuals shall support victims in their exercise of this right.

5.6 Requirements for Further Cooperation

Upon request of any civil authority, individuals shall cooperate fully in any investigation of child abuse and/or neglect. This includes investigations of alleged sexual abuse of children who are now adults. Individuals shall also cooperate in any resulting judicial proceeding.

5.7 Immunity Protections for Those Making a Report

Any individual participating in good faith in the making of a report in accordance with the Illinois Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act, 325 ILCS 5/1, et seq., shall have immunity from any liability, civil, criminal or that otherwise might result by reason of such actions. This protection applies to those required and those permitted under Illinois law to make such reports, provided that such reports are made in good faith.

5.8 Record Keeping

Accurate records of reports received, whether supported or not, and all actions taken and notifications by individuals in response to such reports, and evidence and relevant comments, shall be kept on file in strict and secure confidence. Copies of original statements provided to the authorities will be kept on file as set forth in Section 6.2 below. The responsibility for record keeping resides with the Vicar General and records should be retained in his office. For the protection of both the involved individuals and parishes, schools and agencies, records shall be kept ad infinitum. Continuity of information is essential and shall be assured. Such records, or portions of them, may be required in civil, criminal and canonical proceedings at the time of the allegation or at a later time.

6 Diocesan Reporting Requirements

Principle

The Diocese believes unconditionally in the dignity of all children and reasserts its condemnation of child abuse. Originating from this belief are expectations that there is: (1) the general duty to report knowledge or reasonable suspicion of child abuse, regardless of the consequences of such disclosure, and (2) the pastoral responsibility of the Diocese to establish, implement and enforce an internal program of clear, practical actions to require the reporting of suspected child abuse.

6.1 What Must Be Reported?

Any individual who, in the course of performing employment or volunteer activities, makes observations or is presented with information that leads the individual to believe or suspect that any child has been the victim of physical abuse, sexual abuse or neglect, shall report under any of the following circumstances to the appropriate parish, school or agency official (as described in Section 6.2 below):

  • abuse occurring on the premises of a school (whether an agency of the Diocese or part of a parish);
  • abuse occurring on the premises of a parish, school or agency under the auspices of the Diocese or within Diocesan-owned facilities;
  • abuse taking place in relation to any activities sponsored by the Diocese or the parishes, schools or agencies under the auspices of the Diocese; or
  • abuse where the alleged perpetrator is (or was) a priest, deacon, religious man or woman, or other personnel or volunteer of the Diocese or the parishes, schools or agencies under its auspices.

The only exception is that priests shall not report any information subject to the priest-penitent privilege.

Any suspected physical abuse, sexual abuse or neglect of a child under these categories shall be reported, regardless of the nature of the current age of the alleged victim, the position/role of the accused or when the offense allegedly occurred.

6.2 To Whom Should Reports Be Made?

a. If the alleged abuse has not been reported to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services ("DCFS") Hotline or has been reported to the Illinois Hotline and the Hotline worker has accepted the report and initiated an investigation, the individual must immediately report the alleged abuse and the outcome of the Hotline call, in person or by phone discussion, to the designated individual for the school, parish, agency or other Diocesan entity. The designated individual must immediately convey this information, in person or by phone discussion, to the Vicar General and, if a school situation, to the Office of Education. When the individual has completed the written report required by the Hotline, a copy of this report will also be forwarded to the Vicar General. In a case where the report relates to alleged abuse or neglect by a priest, deacon or religious man or woman from the Diocese, the Vicar General shall notify the Bishop. In the case of a priest, deacon or religious man or woman who is not from within the Diocese, the individual s Bishop or provincial shall be notified. The Vicar General shall also confirm that the allegation has been reported to appropriate civil authorities, and, when appropriate, shall designate a case-specific contact individual to coordinate with civil authorities in furtherance of the requirement in Section 5.6.

b. If the alleged abuse has been reported to the Illinois DCFS Hotline and the Hotline worker has elected not to accept the report, the individual shall make a report to the Diocesan Director of Child Protection.

7 Internal Diocesan Procedures

Principle

The Diocese will take all precautions necessary to ensure that children are safe and protected from harm. Despite such preventive measures, allegations of suspected abuse may occur. When allegations of suspected abuse are made against any party, the Diocese will consider the rights and interests of all parties and adhere to procedures that: (1) minimize the potential for further injury, (2) maximize the potential for a speedy and just resolution and (3) remain responsive to the tenets of canon and civil laws. To assist the Diocese in implementing these precautions, the Diocese shall establish and publicize a separate internal hotline phone number to facilitate receipt of information (1-800-640-3044).

7.1 Allegations Against an Employee or Volunteer

a. In response to an allegation of child abuse against an employee or volunteer, the pastor of the parish, parish life coordinator, principal or agency director will:

1. Contact the family of the alleged victim and offer spiritual care and support;

2. Contact the Diocesan Director of Child Protection (see Section 9) to assure that treatment, support and essential assistance is provided to the victim in a timely manner;

3. Inform the alleged victim or, in the case of a child, the alleged victim s family of the availability of assistance through the Diocesan Director of Child Protection; and

4. Function in a strict pastoral nature without regard to the truth of any accusation or to the circumstances surrounding the alleged incident.

b. The individual against whom an allegation has been made will receive prompt notification of the general nature of the allegation(s) by the pastor, parish life coordinator, principal or agency director and be placed on administrative leave pending outcome of investigations by civil authorities. Information shared with the accused shall be limited to that which is sufficient to enable the accused to respond to the allegation. Under no circumstances will information be shared that can compromise the civil investigation of the allegation. Whenever possible, civil authorities will be allowed the first contact with the alleged offender, unless such procedure would put the alleged victim and/or others at risk of harm. The individual against whom an allegation has been made is to be:

1. Directed to remain away from the school, agency, parish church, worship services or other location(s) which are the subject matter of the complaint until a resolution of the complaint is concluded;

2. Directed not to contact or attempt to contact neither the alleged victim nor the victim s family;

3. Informed of the investigative process and the expectations for his/her cooperation and participation in said process; and

4. Advised of his or her right to obtain his or her own attorney.

c. If the employee or volunteer is arrested and charged, a review of the facts will be made to determine if he or she should be continued on administrative leave. If an individual is entitled, compensation and benefits will only be continued for three months or until the preliminary report of the police is made, whichever comes first. Thereafter, benefits only will continue, at the discretion of the Vicar General, up to a maximum of nine (9) months.

d. If an employee or volunteer admits guilt, does not contest guilt or there is a finding of guilt in criminal court or of liability in civil court, he or she will be terminated immediately. The pastor, parish life coordinator, principal or agency director should notify the Vicar General in writing so that the file of the employee or volunteer may be properly noted and adequate safeguards taken in an effort to ensure that the individual is not employed or utilized in any capacity. The name will be sent to the Diocesan Office of Human Resources to be placed on a "Do Not Hire" list for personnel and volunteers. This information shall become part of the permanent employment file of the employee and/or volunteer and may be made available in response to employment-related inquiries.

e. In instances where allegations of abuse are not supported, a consultation by the pastor, parish life coordinator, principal or agency director with the Vicar General will take place to determine the most appropriate course of action and the disposition of the accused.

7.2 Allegations Against A Priest or Deacon in Service Within the Diocese or Residing in a Diocesan Rectory or Facility

a. In response to an allegation of child abuse in a parish by a priest or deacon, the Vicar General will immediately notify the Bishop or his delegate via telephone or in-person conversation.

b. The Vicar General or his representative will:

1. Contact the family of the alleged victim and offer spiritual care and support;

2. Contact the Diocesan Director of Child Protection (see Section 9) to assure that treatment, support and essential assistance is provided to the victim in a timely manner;

3. Inform the alleged victim or, in the case of a child, the alleged victim s family of the availability of assistance through the Diocesan Director of Child Protection;

4. Function in a strict pastoral nature without regard to the truth of any accusation or to the circumstances surrounding the alleged incident; and

5. The Vicar General will inform the Diocesan Review Board Administrator who will call a meeting of the Diocesan Review Board, so that the procedures of the Diocesan Review Board can be initiated (see Section 7.4).

c. The priest or deacon suspected of abuse, after civil authorities have been informed, will be:

1. Called for an immediate meeting with the Vicar General who will inform him of the nature of the allegation(s), unless the civil authorities deem otherwise. Civil authorities will be offered first contact with the accused, except when such procedure would put the alleged victim and/or others at risk of harm;

2. Informed of the investigative process and the expectations for his cooperation and participation in said process;

3. Advised by the Vicar General of his right to obtain civil and canonical counsel; and

4. Requested to seek and voluntarily comply with a comprehensive psychological evaluation (at the discretion of the Vicar General).

d. In response to credible allegations against a priest or deacon as determined by the Bishop and informed by the advisory Diocesan Review Board (see Section 7.4), the Vicar General will notify the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith will determine whether a church tribunal or the Congregation will adjudicate allegations.

e. A priest or deacon who admits guilt or eventually is found guilty will be permanently removed from the ministry and not allowed to function or represent himself as a priest or deacon and may be laicized. Individuals found not guilty may also be removed from the ministry if the Bishop deems them to be a danger to children. These matters may be appealed in accordance with the Code of Canon Law.

f. In the case of a priest or deacon from another Diocese, the Vicar General will, after an allegation of child abuse has been deemed credible, immediately direct the individual to leave the Diocese, parish, school or agency and will notify the appropriate Bishop or superior advising of the individual s immediate removal.

7.3 Allegations Against an Individual Who has No Association with the Diocese

a. In response to an allegation of child abuse committed by an individual who has no association with the Diocese, the pastor, parish life coordinator, principal or agency director should:

1. Contact the family of the alleged victim and offer information and support;

2. Cooperate with civil authorities as requested; and

3. Notify the Vicar General.

All individuals who suspect child abuse and have a duty to report child abuse as defined in civil law (see Section 5.1) should do so in a manner consistent with statutory guidance. In addition, the Vicar General is to report the allegation to civil authorities in each and every instance.

7.4 Diocesan Review Board

When a priest or deacon presented for faculties is suspected of past or recent child sexual abuse, the Bishop shall consult with the Diocesan Review Board. This Board may also be consulted in instances where allegations of abuse are not supported to determine the most appropriate course of action and the disposition of the accused.

7.5 Rights of the Alleged Victims and the Accused

Following an allegation of child abuse, the Diocese shall provide the alleged victim and the individual accused with:

a. A timely response to, investigation of and resolution of the allegation of abuse;

b. An explanation of the Diocese's overall process and specific procedures for dealing with allegations of child abuse, including its policy on reporting to civil authorities;

c. An opportunity to provide comments to the Diocesan Review Board through the Review Board Administrator relevant to the nature of the allegations either in person or in writing;

d. Identification and offering of appropriate assistance to help the child/adult victim remediate the abuse experience and to ensure the psychological evaluation and treatment for the accused, as warranted;

e. Discretion in the conduct of the investigation and, to the extent possible, protection of the privacy and good name of both the victim and the accused; and

f. Information pertaining to the outcome of the investigation, once it has been concluded.

7.6 Record Keeping

Accurate records of reports received, whether supported or not, and all actions taken and notifications by individuals in response to such reports, and evidence and relevant comments, shall be kept on file in strict and secure confidence. Copies of original statements provided to the authorities will be kept on file. The responsibility for record keeping resides with the Vicar General and records should be retained in his office. For the protection of both the involved individuals and parishes, schools and agencies, records shall be kept ad infinitum. Continuity of information is essential and shall be assured. Such records, or portions of them, may be required in civil, criminal and canonical proceedings at the time of the allegation or at a later time.

7.7 Child Protection Advisory Board

The Diocese established a Child Protection Advisory Board in July 2003 to demonstrate its commitment to the safety of all children and to respond to the Essential Norms for Diocesan/Eparchial Policies Dealing with Allegations of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Priests or Deacons that were approved by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops at its November 2002 General Meeting.

The Child Protection Advisory Board, comprised of eight members who serve for five year terms, reports directly to the Bishop in carrying out its broad mandate to:

a. Review Diocesan policies and procedures relating to child protection activities at least every year and recommend ways in which they can be strengthened, improved or modified;

b. Oversee the implementation of the policies throughout the Diocese and its ministries;

c. Assist in developing appropriate mechanisms to ensure compliance with the policies;

d. Assess the effectiveness of victim assistance efforts by the Diocese and make recommendations for improvement; and

e. Review and advise on standards of conduct for those in positions of trust and on education, training and outreach programs for priests, deacons and religious men and women, personnel, volunteers, educators and others, as well as safe environment programs for children.

Both the Vicar General and the Diocesan Review Board shall meet with the Child Protection Advisory Board at least annually to report on and summarize their activities and findings of the previous year and recommendations for the future.

The Child Protection Advisory Board shall present a public report of the status of the Diocesan child protection activities in the Diocesan newspapers and share the information with the parishes, schools and agencies.

8 Diocesan Response to False

Allegations

Principle

As in the recognition of significant trauma experienced by abuse victims, the Diocese recognizes the trauma and harm of false accusations. The Diocese will strive to minimize any personal or professional adverse consequences of unsupported allegations and to preserve the future ministry opportunities of personnel falsely accused of child abuse, in accord with canon law.

8.1 Mental Health Services

The Diocese will provide the necessary mental health services to assist personnel wrongfully accused to address the consequences of accusations and to restore the effectiveness in their job duties and/or volunteer services.

8.2 Restoring the Good Name of Someone Falsely Accused

The Diocese will work with the accused to restore his or her good name and reputation.

9 Pastoral Care and Victim

Assistance

Principle

The relationship between the Church and its members is sacred. The Diocese recognizes that this sacred trust is broken and profound harm is done when individuals connected with the Church abuse children. The Diocese further recognizes the Church s pastoral responsibility to reach out to every individual who has been the victim of abuse as a child by anyone acting in the name of the Church or under the auspices of the Diocese, whether the abuse was recent or occurred in the more distant past. In order to repair harm and promote healing, the Diocese will offer compassionate and timely pastoral care to victims of child abuse, the victims immediate families and the affected faith communities. Through this pastoral care, as well as ongoing education and training for priests, deacons, religious men and women, personnel, volunteers and other individuals connected with the Church, the Diocese will work diligently to promote safe, healthy communities of faith.

9.1 Pastoral Outreach to Victims, Families and the Community

The Diocese will provide restorative pastoral responses to victims, families, parishes and communities that are essential to begin the healing process. These may include, but are not limited to:

a. Open discourse about child abuse that allows education, healing and reconciliation;

b. Expressions of compassion;

c. Acknowledgement and acceptance of feelings of anger, pain and mistrust as part of the healing process;

d. Admission of wrongdoing and apology by the perpetrator and the provision of an unambiguous statement of remorse by a Diocesan official;

e. Education of the parish and the community in order to facilitate their understanding, acceptance and support of victims whose pain may require both immediate and ongoing intervention to repair the harm and promote the healing of their lives; and

f. Pastoral counseling for an affected faith community.

9.2 Director of Child Protection

The Diocese shall designate a Director of Child Protection who will receive notification of all allegations of abuse, promptly inform the alleged victim of his/her rights and obligations, and who will organize and direct timely and responsive pastoral care provided by the Diocese.

The Diocesan Director of Child Protection will serve as the liaison with any individual who alleges abuse as a child, will explain Diocesan policies and reporting requirements and will ensure that the individual receives appropriate pastoral care. The Diocesan Director of Child Protection will meet with the victims, their families, and the affected parish and faith communities and will monitor their pastoral needs to confirm that ongoing care is available for the appropriate period of time.

9.3 Counseling Assistance for Victims and Their Families

Pastoral care to individuals harmed by abuse shall be offered in a variety of ways to bring healing to all those affected including, but not limited to, information about the availability of mental health services and supports. The Diocesan Director of Child Protection, on behalf of the Diocese, will facilitate assessment, counseling and therapeutic interventions by accredited and competent counselors, as mutually agreed upon by the individual receiving pastoral care or the victim s parent or other adult with custodial responsibility in the case of a child and the Diocese.

The reasonable cost of assessment and counseling for the victim and, in certain cases, family members will be assumed by the Diocese provided that:

a. An initial assessment, found acceptable by the Diocese, is made by a qualified professional counselor;

b. The assessment contains recommendations for length of counseling and treatment goals;

c. The recommendations are in accordance with the standard of care practiced in the community; and

d. Treatment plans and goals are routinely monitored by a qualified professional counselor and reviewed no less than every six months.

9.4 Additional Forms of Pastoral Care

Appropriate pastoral care also may include medical evaluation and treatment, spiritual guidance, identification of support groups and other social services and resources for healing, depending upon the circumstances and particular needs of the victim, which shall be determined and mutually agreed upon by the victim or the victim s parent or other adult with custodial responsibility in the case of a child and the Diocese.

9.5 Measuring Accountability of Victim Assistance and Child Protection Outreach

Progress reports on victim assistance and child protection will be prepared on a biannual basis by the Diocesan Director of Child Protection and submitted to the Vicar General. These reports will address both case-specific and institutional issues including, but not limited to:

a. Identification of victims needs;

b. Availability and provision of services and supports that is responsive to the needs of victims;

c. Financial costs accrued to the victim assistance program;

d. Availability and provision of resources for guidance, support and intervention with secondary victims such as family members and friends;

e. Availability of and access to child protection training programs for personnel, volunteers and schools to meet training requisites; and

f. Compliance with provisions of Diocesan Child Protection Policy.

10 Communications

Principle

The Diocese s policies and procedures governing its internal and external communications should promote the development of cooperative, responsive and candid relationships. The Diocese should engage the community and the media in its efforts to prevent child abuse and neglect, protect children, support families and inform the public. Within the confines of respect for privacy of the individuals involved, the Diocese will communicate as openly as possible with the members of the media, faith community and general public regarding allegations of child abuse and related issues. In the Diocese, the Vicar General is responsible for Communications.

10.1 Public Awareness of Child Abuse Issues

The Diocese will work with the faith community and the general public to disseminate information in order to increase the awareness and understanding of the prevention, identification and treatment of child abuse and neglect.

10.2 Timeliness of Communications

Communications with an affected parish, school and/or agency, the media and the broader Diocesan community are to be timely, open and clear. All communications shall occur within the confines of respect for the privacy and reputation of those involved, as well as any applicable canon and civil laws.

10.3 Responding to the Media

The Vicar General is to be responsible for coordinating all media contacts. All media inquiries made to parishes, schools and/or agencies should be referred to that office or responded to in consultation with that office. The Vicar General will consult with, guide and coordinate relevant individuals in the handling of media inquiries.

10.4 Communicating with Directly Affected Communities

Recognizing the importance of supporting parishes, schools and/or agencies directly affected by misconduct involving the victimization of children, the Vicar General will coordinate with the relevant offices, such as the Office of Education; and parish, school and/or agency directors to ensure parishioners, school and/or agency families receive timely, factual and pastorally appropriate communication.

10.5 Communicating with the Broader Community

The Diocese may communicate with pastors and/or parish life coordinators at other parishes, particularly those where an accused individual previously served, pastoral center staff, school principals and/or agency directors in order to assist them in reaching out pastorally to all parishioners and school and agency families within the Diocese.

11 Measuring Progress and Accountability

Principle

In order to restore the trust and confidence of victims, parishioners, all Catholics and the public at large in the Church s ability to prevent child abuse and identify and heal those who have been abused, the Diocese shall be accountable for its efforts and performance in these matters. The Diocese shall evaluate the effectiveness of this Policy at regular intervals to determine whether it is meeting the needs of the Church, the faith community and the victims and their families in the most effective and responsive ways possible.

11.1 Responsibility for Implementation of Policy

The Diocese will be responsible for the effective and timely implementation of this policy.

11.2 Evaluation Process

The Vicar General will establish a formal evaluation process for this Policy. The process will include data needed to assess the effectiveness of the victim s assistance efforts, professional in-service training activities, supervisory support for this Policy, outreach and educational programs.

11.3 Annual Report

Each parish, school and agency under the auspices of the Diocese shall submit an annual report to the Vicar General summarizing actions taken to implement this Policy. The reports shall identify any specific child abuse allegations that occurred and the extent to which the Director, parish, school or agency director followed the Policy. The reports should describe other activities such as personnel and volunteer training, community education and outreach to victims. The reports should document the full compliance with the Policy.

11.4 Policy Compliance

All priests, deacons, religious men and women, personnel and volunteers under the auspices of the Diocese are expected to adhere to this policy. The parish, school or agency personnel policy shall clearly state that corrective actions will be taken and consequences will result from failure to adhere to this Policy.

11.5 Consultation

In determining the effectiveness of this Policy and its related components, the Diocese will consult with victims of abuse, priests, deacons, religious men and women, personnel, volunteers, victims assistance programs, educational staff and other individuals directly impacted by the study.

11.6 Annual Report to Child Protection Advisory Board

The Vicar General should report his findings under this Section at an annual meeting of the Child Protection Advisory Board.

11.7 Annual Report to Parishioners

The Child Protection Advisory Board shall present a public report of the status of the Diocesan activities in connection with this Policy in the Diocesan newspapers and to the parishes, schools and agencies.

11.8 Review of Child Protection Policy

This Policy will be reviewed by the Child Protection Advisory Board one year following the date of its enactment and at least every two years thereafter. This review shall include: (1) an assessment of the adequacy of the Diocesan reports and methods that have been implemented to measure progress and accountability and (2) recommendations for amended measures and methods of progress and accountability.

Appendix A

Step By Step Guide to Reporting

1. Gather pertinent information: the child s full name, date of birth, age, phone number, address, reason for suspecting abuse, abuser s full name, age, date of birth, address phone number, and information whether the child is protected from the offender. The Department of Children and Family Services ("DCFS") will take your call even if you have only the child s name and address and suspected perpetrator s name.

2. Call the State of Illinois toll free Child Abuse Hotline:

1-800-25-ABUSE or 1-800-252-2873

3. A Hotline worker will either:

a. take your call, or

b. take your name and number and call you back at their earliest convenience.

4. Identify yourself as a mandated or permitted reporter.

5. Give the pertinent information.

6. The hotline worker will determine if there is adequate information for a report.

7. If there is adequate information for a report the State of Illinois hotline will call the local DCFS within a couple of hours after your phone call.

8. DCFS has twenty-four (24) hours in which to initiate an investigation starting from the time the call was received. The investigation entails interviewing the alleged victim, the alleged abuser and anyone with knowledge of the situation.

9. You will receive a form entitled "Written Confirmation of Suspected Child Abuse/Neglect Report for Mandated Reporters," which you will be asked to complete and return to the local DCFS office and Illinois DCFS in Springfield.

Comply with the internal Diocesan reporting obligations as set forth within this Policy and Section 7.

Appendix B

Guidelines for the Diocesan Review Board

Preamble

The Diocesan Review Board (the "Board") is established in accordance with the Essential Norms of Diocesan Policies Dealing with Allegations of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Priests or Deacons as approved by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in November 2002 and given recognitio of the Apostolic See on December 8, 2002.

The applicable norms are set forth in Norms 4, 5 and 6 in the official document. The provisions are as follows:

1. To assist the Bishop, the Diocese will have a Board that will function as a confidential consultative body to the Bishop in discharging his responsibilities as to child protection. The functions of this Board may include:

a. Advising the Bishop in his assessment of allegations of sexual abuse of children by any priest, deacon and religious men and women of the Diocese and in the determination of the individual s fitness for ministry;

b. Offering advice on all aspects of the cases, whether retrospectively or prospectively; and

c. Reviewing Diocesan policies for dealing with sexual abuse of children.

2. The Board will be composed of at least seven individuals of outstanding integrity and good judgment in full communion with the Church appointed by the Bishop. At least four members shall be lay Catholics who are not employed by the Diocese and three members shall be Diocesan priests. Two of the lay members shall include a psychiatrist, a psychologist or social worker, one of whom should have particular expertise in the treatment of sexual abuse of children and an attorney; and two representatives of the church at large shall include a parish council member, a parent and a victim or parent of a victim of child sexual abuse.

3. The members shall be appointed for a term of five years or until a successor is appointed. No member shall be appointed for more than two consecutive terms. It is desirable that the Promoter of Justice participate in the meetings of the Board.

4. The Bishop shall designate one board member as chairperson and one individual as vice chairperson for one year terms. The chairperson will ordinarily convene and preside at meetings of the Board. The vice chairperson will perform these duties when the chairperson is unable to do so.

5. The Bishop, the Bishop's delegate, other individuals designated by the Bishop or the Board Administrator may attend those portions of meetings during which information is presented to the Board and the Board makes its recommendations. They may attend other portions of the meetings subject to the direction of the Board. All other individuals may attend meetings only upon the invitation or with the consent of the Board and subject to such limitations the Board might require.

6. The meetings shall reflect the pastoral character of this process, which is consultative and advisory, not adversary and adjudicative. The meetings of the Board are not hearings.

7. Nothing within this Policy and/or its procedures shall be interpreted as to abridge an individual's right to legal or canonical counsel.

8. When an allegation of sexual abuse of a child by a priest, deacon or a religious man or women is received, a preliminary investigation in harmony with canon law will be conducted promptly and objectively (c. 1717). All appropriate steps shall be taken to protect the reputation of the accused during the investigation. The accused will be encouraged to retain the assistance of civil and canonical counsel and will be promptly notified of the results of the investigation. When there is sufficient evidence that sexual abuse of a child has occurred, the Bishop shall apply the precautionary measures as mentioned in canon 1722 -- i.e., remove the accused from the sacred ministry or from any ecclesiastical office or function, impose or prohibit residence in a given place or territory and prohibit public participation in the Most Holy Eucharist pending the outcome of the process. In addition, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith shall be notified.

Review Board Administrator

The Board Administrator will assist the Board in the performance of their duties:

1. The Board Administrator shall be a lay professional who maintains appropriate qualifications in psychology or social work or a related field and substantial experience in investigating and analyzing allegations of sexual abuse of children. The Board Administrator may be, but need not be, an attorney.

2. The Board Administrator will be assigned a number of duties that will be outlined in this Section.

3. The Board Administrator will be charged with answering and reviewing any phone calls that come to the hot line telephone number.

4. The Board Administrator shall receive and analyze information and allegations of sexual abuse of a priest, deacon or a religious man or woman with a child. The Board Administrator shall report all allegations to the appropriate civil authorities and cooperate with official investigations.

5. The Board Administrator will assist the board by preparing and submitting such reports pertaining to the allegations and requests and such as other information as may be appropriate.

6. The Board Administrator shall communicate in an appropriate manner with the victim or individual making the allegation, the victim assistance minister, the accused individual and such other individuals the Bishop or the Board may designate.

7. When allegations of suspected abuse are made against any party, the Diocese will consider the rights and interests of all parties and adhere to procedures that:

(1) minimize the potential of further injury;

(2) maximize the potential for speedy and just resolution; and

(3) remain responsive to the tenets of civil and canon laws.

Review Board Guidelines

Upon receipt of an allegation, the Board Administrator shall promptly comply with all civil reporting requirements related to sexual abuse with a child, including the Illinois Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act. The Board Administrator shall provide the individual making the allegation with a written statement containing information about reporting such allegations to public authorities.

Ordinarily, the Board Administrator also shall promptly do the following:

1. Report the allegation to the Director of Child Protection;

2. Report the allegation to the Vicar General who shall then inform the priest or deacon within the Diocese and request his explanation (see Section 7.2);

3. Investigate whether the safety of children requires the immediate withdrawal of the priest or deacon within the Diocese from his assignment and promptly communicate a recommendation to the Bishop; in making this recommendation, the Board Administrator may consult with the Bishop, his delegate and individuals designated by the Bishop;

4. Schedule and give effective notice of a first-stage review meeting of the Board to occur no later than seventy-two (72) hours after the allegation was received; and

5. The Board Administrator shall review the file of the accused, make appropriate inquiries about the allegation and prepare a report of all available information for presentation to the Board at the first-stage review meeting.

The Board shall meet no later than approximately 72 hours after an allegation is made to conduct a first-stage review:

1. At the meeting, the Board shall determine:

a. Whether the administrator's original recommendation about withdrawal of the accused from his ministerial assignment adequately provides for the safety of children;

b. Whether the preliminary actions taken by the Bishop or his delegate were appropriate; and

c. What further action should be taken with respect to the allegation.

2. The Board shall consider the Board Administrator's report, information provided by the Bishop's delegate or other individuals identified by the Bishop and any other information which the Board believes to be helpful and is able to obtain.

3. The Board shall determine whether there is reasonable cause to suspect that the individual engaged in sexual abuse with a child as defined in Section 1.6 of this Policy, and on the basis of this determination shall make recommendations to the Bishop about the following:

a. If the individual has already been withdrawn from ministry pending inquiry, whether such withdrawal should continue; if the withdrawal should not continue, whether any restrictions should be imposed on the individual prior to returning to ministry.

b. If the individual has not been withdrawn from ministry, whether he should be withdrawn, whether he should continue in his assignment and, if so, whether further action by the Board Administrator is required.

c. Whether the case may be closed at this stage of the proceedings or held open pending action by the public bodies, further inquiry by the Board Administrator or further action by the Board; and,

d. If the individual s conduct does not constitute sexual abuse with a child, whether further action is warranted and suggestions as to such actions.

e. There is always the possibility of false accusations or unsubstantiated claims made for whatever reason. It is important for all individuals to know that both civil and canon law (cc. 1390-1391) provide penalties for the crime of falsehood in which individuals become victims of false denunciation or calumny.

4. If an act of sexual abuse by an individual is admitted or is established at the conclusion of this process, the Bishop will take the appropriate canonical action.

5. After the first-stage review the Board Administrator shall conduct such additional inquiry as the Board Administrator believes appropriate or as may be directed by the Board, including interviews of witnesses, review of documents (including documents reflecting action taken by public bodies) and a request for the psychiatric evaluation of the accused individual. The Board Administrator shall prepare one or more written reports of these inquiries for the Board. These reports should include descriptions of actions taken by the Board Administrator, such additional inquiry as may be required and identification of information that was not available to the Board Administrator and why that information was not available.

6. There shall be a second-stage review which ordinarily shall be initiated and scheduled to occur no earlier than thirty (30) and no later than one hundred and twenty (120) days after completion of the first-stage review. The Board may delay scheduling the second-stage review for a good reason, such as to await the completion of action by public bodies:

a. At the second-stage review, the Board shall determine:

(1) Whether prior determinations as to ministry by the individual should be altered; and

(2) What further action, if any, should be taken with respect to the allegation.

b. The second-stage review may be initiated by the individual who was withdrawn from ministry or by the Board in any matter it deems appropriate.

c. The Board shall consider the Board Administrator s reports, information provided by the Bishop s delegate or other individuals identified by the Bishop, and any other information which the Board believes to be helpful and is able to obtain, including information pertinent to the allegation from the personnel file of the accused individual.

d. The accused individual and his advocate will be informed of the material that will be presented to the Board.

e. The Board will be required to assess the credibility of the allegations and whether the allegations conform to the definition of sexual abuse of a child as outlined in the policy developed by the Child Protection Advisory Board and adopted by the Diocese.

f. If the conduct of the accused individual does not constitute sexual abuse of a child but is otherwise inappropriate, whether further action appears desirable and suggestions as to possible further action.

g. The Board may be asked to comment on the suitability of the accused individual for future ministry.

h. The Board is authorized to further investigate allegations and asked the Board Administrator to conduct further interviews of alleged victims or witnesses as it deems necessary and appropriate in each particular case.

7. The Board Administrator will present the recommendations of the Board to the Bishop.

8. The deliberations of the Board will be strictly confidential and no detailed minutes will be taken or maintained. Summary notes indicating the purpose of the meeting, the individuals in attendance, and the decisions made and the next steps will be recorded and retained in the office of the Board Administrator. All documents given to the Board will be collected at the end of each meeting and returned to the Board Administrator.

Top

Reporting Abuse

Illinois Department of Children and Family Services
Child Abuse Hotline

1-800-25-ABUSE (1-800-252-2873)
217-524-2606 Outside of Illinois
1-800-358-5117 TTY

www.state.il.us/dcfs

Mandated Reporters

There are seven groups of mandated reporters as defined by state law (the Illinois Abused and Neglected Childrens Reporting Act or ANCRA, 1975):

  • School Personnel
  • Medical Personnel
  • Social Service and Mental Health Personnel
  • Law Enforcement Personnel
  • Coroner/Medical Examiner Personnel
  • Child Care Personnel
  • Clergy

Child Abuse and Neglect

Child Abuse and/or neglect is the maltreatment of a child under the age of 18 by a parent, guardian, foster parent, relative caregiver, paramour, any individual residing in the same home, any person responsible for the child's welfare at the time of the alleged abuse, or any person who came to know the child through an official capacity or position of trust. Child abuse can be physical abuse, sexual abuse, and/or neglect.

Physical abuse occurs when a parent or a person responsible for the child’s welfare inflicts, caused to be inflicted, or allowed to be inflicted a physical injury; created a substantial risk of physical injury; commits an act of torture; inflicts excessive corporal punishment; allows the use of alcohol and/or drugs.

Sexual abuse occurs when a parent or a person responsible for the child’s welfare commits or allows to be committed any of the following: transmission of a sexual disease; sexual penetration; sexual molestation; sexual exploitation and/or places a minor at risk of sexual harm. (Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act)

Neglect occurs when a parent or a person responsible for the child deprives or fails to provide the child with adequate food, clothing, shelter, or needed medical care.

When to Call the Department of Children and Family Services Hotline

In the state of Illinois, all reports of known or suspected child abuse and/or neglect are reported to the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) Hotline (1-800-25-ABUSE).

Whenever you have reason to believe that a person who cares for a child, lives with a child, or works with or around children has caused injury or harm, or puts a child at risk of sexual and/or physical injury, or has neglected the child's basic needs. If you have reason to suspect child abuse  make the report by calling the DCFS Hotline. The Hotline worker can advise you on whether the signs you have observed are abuse.

Mandated Reporters are required to report suspected child abuse or maltreatment immediately when they have reason to believe that a child known to them through their professional or official capacity may be an abused and/or neglected child.

Making the Call to the Department of Children and Family Services Hotline
Call the Police (911) if a child is in immediate danger or has been injured.

Your report is confidential and is not subject to public release under the Open Records Act. The law provides for immunity from civil or criminal liabilities for innocent persons who report even unfounded suspicions, as long as your report is made in good faith. Your identity is kept confidential. Remember, even if you do not have all the information, you are still encouraged  to call. Be sure to identify if you are a mandated reporter. The Hotline worker will ask you to  provide the following information: 

    • Name, age, gender, address, etc. for all adult and child subjects.
    • The nature of the suspected abuse and/or neglect.
    • When and where it occurred.
    • Any additional person(s) with information.
    • The name(s) of the suspected perpetrator(s), their relationship to the child, and their access to the child.
    • Additional information requested from the Hotline worker.

After Calling the Department of Children and Family Services Hotline

After listening to what you report, the Hotline worker will then determine if the information provided meets the legal requirements for DCFS to initiate an investigation. If an investigation is initiated, a child protection investigator will begin the investigation process within 24 hours. If the information does not meet the legal requirement to initiate an investigation, you will be informed of the reasons why and referrals provided if appropriate.

DCFS Report Form for Mandated Reporters

Policy Statement of the Diocese of Belleville

Diocesan clergy, religious personnel, lay employees and volunteers of the Diocese of Belleville, while performing services for the Church, shall not engage in sexual conduct that is unlawful or harmful and contrary to the moral instructions, doctrines and canon law of the Catholic Church. Such conduct is contrary to Christian principles and is outside the scope of the duties and/or employment of all personnel or volunteers of the Diocese.

Employees and/or volunteers must comply with all relevant state and federal laws, including:

  • the Illinois Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act.
  • the laws prohibiting sexual harassment in the work place. Sexual harassment includes but is not limited to slurs, jokes, sexual advances, requests for sexual favors and all verbal, graphic or physical conduct of a sexual nature.

Any employee or volunteer of the Diocese of Belleville who suspect an incident of any sexual misconduct by any diocesan clergy, religious personnel, lay employee or volunteer must immediately report such incident to The Reverend John McEvilly, the Vicar General of the Diocese. The matter will be investigated and where appropriate, disciplinary action will be taken.

Do not assume that the diocese is aware of any sexual misconduct. It is your responsibility to report incidents of which you know.

Code of Conduct Policy

As personnel (as defined in the Child Protection Policy), I certify and voluntarily agree to abide by the following CODE OF CONDUCT

  • I will exhibit the highest Christian ethical standards and personal integrity.
  • I will conduct myself in a manner that is consistent with the discipline and teachings of the Catholic Church.
  • I will provide a professional work environment that is free from physical, psychological, written or verbal intimidation or harassment.
  • I will avoid taking unfair advantage of the counseling relationship.
  • I will not physically, sexually or emotionally abuse or neglect a child or adult.
  • I will report any suspected abuse or neglect of a child to the Child Abuse Hotline 1-800-252-2873 and to the victim assistance coordinator.
  • I will accept personal responsibility to protect children from all forms of abuse.