STATEMENT FROM DIOCESE OF BOISE REGARDING CHILD AND YOUTH PROTECTION

The Diocese has been receiving calls and letters from people wanting to know what the Diocese of Boise will do in response to the Pennsylvania Grand Jury report and the recent revelations regarding Archbishop Theodore McCarrick and the follow-up controversy that ensued.

Fortunately, by God’s grace and by, we hope, our own good work, the Diocese of Boise has not had the issues that other Dioceses have experienced.

There are no allegations before the Diocese of Boise that are not currently being addressed. The Diocese has had cases of credible accusations against two priests since Bishop Peter Christensen’s arrival nearly four years ago. One of those cases involved alleged abuse against a minor while the other was criminal conduct against an adult. In both cases, the men were immediately removed from ministry.  In both of those cases, law enforcement was contacted and the Diocese cooperated, and is cooperating, with legal authorities. In both cases, the Diocese kept the parishes and any other interested parties informed and involved with our ongoing process.

We understand the sentiment to act quickly and the urge to “Do something!” While there may be reforms coming on a national level that could be implemented here as well, particularly in regard to oversight of bishops, our mission here in the Diocese of Boise is to keep on doing what we are doing because it is working.

As stated in the introduction to our Sexual Misconduct Policy (updated in 2016):  “The Diocese of Boise has zero tolerance for sexual abuse. It is behavior that degrades and diminishes the value of each human person and will not be tolerated.”

The entire policy is on our Website Here.

These are some highlights of the policy:

  • We have a Diocesan Review Board, which includes two licensed social workers, a licensed psychologist, an attorney and a priest.
  • Veronica Childers is our Safe Environment Coordinator. She makes sure that all Diocesan employees and volunteers who work with children undergo criminal background checks and that they complete Safe Environment Training. (For parish employees, the background check is completed through the Diocesan Office of Child, Youth and Adult Protection; for school employees, through the State Department of Education.)
  • As of September 6, 2018, we have 8,587 people in the Diocese who have attend at least one in-person Safe Environment Training session. From July 2017 through June 2018, the Diocese offered  258 in-person safe environment workshops with 1,756 new attendees. Some 8,587 active adult clergy, employees and volunteers have cleared at least one criminal background check. We are renewing background checks every five years.
  • Names of all volunteers serving with children, youths and vulnerable adults must be forwarded to the Diocese so that they may be checked against sexual offender databases. The Diocese, parishes and schools will not knowingly hire or use the volunteer services of a clergy member or lay individual whose background check includes even a single substantiated instance of child abuse or sexual abuse.
  • In those instances where a credible complaint of sexual misconduct by a member of the clergy is received, the Bishop will withdraw the clergy member from ministry while an investigation proceeds to ensure the safety of other children, parishioners or employees.
  • If an allegation of abuse involves a person currently under the age of 18, the complainant will be notified of his or her right to report this crime.  Additionally, because the person is a minor at the time of the report, the Diocese will make a report to appropriate law enforcement officials, as well.  Diocesan officials will assist the complainant in reporting by providing information on where to report and how to report. In Idaho a report of sexual child abuse can be made to local law enforcement or to the local office of the state Department of Health and Welfare’s Child Protective Services. Persons aware of abuse are required by state law to notify the appropriate government agencies within 24 hours of acquiring knowledge or reason to believe the abuse is occurring.
  • In those cases where the abuse involves a person older than 18 when the abuse is reported to have occurred, the complainant will be notified of his or her right to report this crime and encouraged to report it to proper authorities.  
  • All church personnel, whether at the diocesan, parish or school level who receive information indicating possible sexual abuse of a minor by church personnel must immediately report the information to the Bishop or the Director of Child Youth & Adult Protection. This internal reporting requirement is in addition to the requirement to report to civil authorities. This reporting does not require absolute certainty to report the allegations. Diocesan employees are required by Church policy to cooperate fully with civil authorities in any investigation of sexual abuse of a minor.

Those with questions about our policy are encouraged to contact Mark Raper of the Office of Child, Youth and Adult Protection at 208-342-1311 or at mraper@rcdb.org.

 

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