Long-standing diocesan efforts aim to protect children from abuse

The Diocese of Rochester’s initiatives to create a safe environment for all began decades ago.

In 1993, the Diocese established an independent Diocesan Review Board to offer guidance in responding to allegations. The Review Board, which includes lay professionals with expertise in law enforcement, mental health services and legal advocacy, assesses allegations and advises the Bishop.

At that same time, the Diocese also appointed a Victim Assistance Coordinator who receives complaints and coordinates professional assistance for victims; initiates and implements policies to prevent sexual abuse and harassment; and regularly provides training to all clerics and employees within the Diocese.

The Diocese promptly reports all allegations of abuse to the appropriate civil authorities, with the result that, in some instances, diocesan priests were arrested, tried and convicted. In addition, the Diocese has undertaken canonical proceedings, including laicization of offending clerics.

Following the promulgation of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in 2002, the Diocese of Rochester:

• Enhanced its Review Board, which assesses allegations and advises the Bishop of Rochester, particularly with the addition of lay professionals with extensive experience in law enforcement, the provision of mental health services and legal advocacy

• Strengthened its relationships with law- enforcement officials throughout the 12-county Diocese

• Reviewed its past responses in individual cases and, when appropriate, removed offenders from public ministry

• Strengthened the screening process for men applying as candidates for ordination as priests and permanent deacons

• Instituted background checks including criminal history, for clerics, educators, employees and volunteers who would work with children and vulnerable adults

• Developed Codes of Conduct and educated clerics, educators, employees and volunteers concerning their applicability in specific settings.

• Publicized contact information for the Victim Assistance Coordinator and offered to all clerics, educators, employees and volunteers training on the process of reporting allegations

• Encouraged victims to report to civil authorities and to seek assistance. In addition, the Diocese has continued to report contemporary and past allegations to appropriate civil authorities.

• In 2010, the Diocese launched a program to re-train all who work for the Diocese, in parishes, schools and in our affiliated agencies. Training and background checks are renewed every three years.

• In 2012, the Diocese published on its website, www.dor.org, a list summarizing the current dispositions of claims of sexual abuse of a minor by priests resolved since the publication of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.

• In 2015, the Diocese established the new Office of Safe Environment Education and Compliance and began a new Creating a Safe Environment newsletter for our employees and volunteers to communicate safety information.

• Conducted background checks and provided training for more than 25,000 clerics, educators, employees and volunteers since 2002, a number which continues to increase. This is renewed every three years.

The Diocese of Rochester has been found in compliance with all provisions of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People in annual, independent audits that began in 2003 and continue to date.

The Diocese has not received a contemporary report of sexual abuse of a minor since 2006.

For more information visit: www.dor.org/safe

If you have been a victim of sexual abuse, you should contact the appropriate civil authorities. To receive help and guidance from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester please contact: Deborah A. Housel, Victim Assistance Coordinator, (585) 328-3210, ext. 1555, or toll-free 1-800-388-7177, ext. 1555 or by e-mail to victimsassistance@dor.org.

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