Investigative Procedures2018-03-22T13:50:00+00:00

Sexual Abuse and Sexual Misconduct
Procedures for Sexual Abuse

When an accusation of sexual abuse is made, the archdiocesan investigation will proceed with a high level of pastoral care, compassion and confidentiality for the person making the accusation, the accuser’s family, and for the person who has been accused. The following actions will be taken when a report of child abuse is received:

  • Inform law enforcement and cooperate fully with any criminal investigation.
  • When civil authorities are conducting a criminal investigation, the Archdiocese will defer to their investigative processes and will notify the accused of his or her right to retain the assistance of civil and canonical counsel.
  • If an accusation involves a priest or deacon, the Archbishop or his delegate will direct him to take an administrative leave of absence from his present assignment. He will refrain from all public ministries and all unsupervised contact with children, pending the outcome of the internal or criminal investigation. The Archdiocese will inform selected coworkers or others with whom the accused lives or works that an accusation has been made and that the accused has been placed on administrative leave. These individuals will be directed to report inappropriate behavior or violations of ministerial restrictions to a designated archdiocesan official.
  • If an accusation involves a religious priest, deacon or lay religious, the Archbishop or his delegate also will immediately contact the member’s competent ecclesiastical superior.
  • If an accusation involves a lay employee, that person also will be suspended with pay pending the outcome of the archdiocesan or criminal investigation, and the administrator at the location of his or her employment will be informed of the accusation and suspension. Lay personnel will be notified of their right to obtain the assistance of civil counsel.
  • If an accusation involves a volunteer, that person also will be directed not to participate in any volunteer activities during the archdiocesan or criminal investigation, and the administrator at the location of his or her volunteer ministry will be informed of this restriction. Volunteer personnel will be notified of their right to obtain the assistance of civil counsel.
  • The accused will be asked to seek a medical and psychological assessment from a provider mutually acceptable to the Archdiocese and to the accused. This assessment is requested whether or not the accused admits to wrongdoing. The Archdiocese will pay for this evaluation. Agreement to participate in an assessment does not constitute an admission of guilt.
  • Accused personnel will be asked to authorize the release of diagnostic information related to the accusation to the Archbishop or his designee.
  • When an adult contacts the Archdiocese directly about an incident from his or her childhood, the Victim Assistance Coordinator or other designee of the Archbishop will contact this individual to provide support, counseling and pastoral care. The Victim Assistance Coordinator also will provide adult accusers with information about how to make their own report to the police, if they have not already done so. Throughout the process, the Victim Assistance Coordinator will keep the accuser informed about the progress of the archdiocesan investigation.
  • During an archdiocesan investigation, the person making the accusation will be contacted to obtain additional information. The archdiocesan investigator will ask the person making the allegation for permission to use his or her name. If the accuser wishes to remain anonymous, the Archdiocese will determine whether or not an investigation can proceed. An internal investigation will proceed if a judgment is made that there is danger to other possible victims, even when the risk to the accuser’s anonymity may be compromised.
  • In an archdiocesan investigation, the accuser and other corroborating witnesses will be interviewed. If the accused is still living, the accused will be interviewed, and his or her work history and psychological assessment will be reviewed.
  • The Archdiocese of Louisville Sexual Abuse Review Board will examine the results of the archdiocesan investigation to determine the validity of the claim and to make a recommendation to the Archbishop. (See “Guidelines for the Archdiocese of Louisville Sexual Abuse Review Board.”)
  • Notification of all accusations will be given to insurers in accordance with the terms of applicable insurance policies.

Procedures When An Accusation is Substantiated

Whether through a criminal process or an archdiocesan investigation, when an accusation of sexual abuse of a vulnerable person is considered substantiated, the accused will be immediately relieved of the exercise of any function or responsibility of ministry and/or employment in the Archdiocese of Louisville.

Substantiation is determined through several factors, including but not limited to: findings from criminal trials, admissions, reviews of work histories and employment records, data gathered from psychological assessments, and testimony from victims/survivors and other witnesses.

After an accusation has been substantiated, the following steps will be taken:

  • If the offender is a lay employee, his or her employment will be immediately terminated.
  • If the offender is a volunteer, that person will be removed immediately from any and all volunteer positions within the Archdiocese. A volunteer position is defined in these policies as one in which a person works in a volunteer (unpaid) capacity for a parish, school, or agency. The prohibition from volunteer positions includes those positions that include regular contact with minors as well as those positions that have a broader context, such as a lector or Eucharistic minister.
  • If the offender is a religious priest, deacon, or lay religious, his or her employment or ministry will end within the Archdiocese of Louisville, and the Archbishop or his delegate will immediately inform his or her competent ecclesiastical superior.
  • If the offender is a diocesan priest or deacon, the Archbishop has the executive power of governance, through an administrative act, to remove an offending cleric from office, to remove or restrict his faculties, and to limit his exercise of ordained ministry. The Archbishop will exercise this power of governance to insure that any diocesan priest or deacon who has committed even one act of sexual abuse of a minor, now or in the past, will not continue in active ministry. According to the 2011 revision of the Essential Norms for Diocesan/Eparchial Policies Dealing with Allegations of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Priests or Deacons, the acquisition, possession, or distribution by a cleric of pornographic images of minors, for purposes of sexual gratification, by whatever means or using whatever technology, also will result in the permanent prohibition from ministry. The offending priest or deacon will be removed permanently from ministry, not excluding dismissal from the clerical state. Removal from ministry is required whether or not qualified experts diagnose the cleric as a pedophile or as suffering from a related sexual disorder that requires professional treatment.
  • When there is sufficient evidence from either the civil or criminal investigation that sexual abuse of a minor has occurred by a priest or deacon, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith will be notified. In every case involving canonical penalties, the processes provided for in canon law must be observed, and the various provisions of canon law will be considered. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith will direct the Archbishop how to proceed unless it calls the case to itself because of special circumstances.
  • If the case would otherwise be barred by prescription (e.g. statute of limitations), the Archbishop will apply to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for an exception to the prescription, while indicating appropriate pastoral reasons. For the sake of due process, the accused is to be encouraged to retain the assistance of civil and canonical counsel.
  • If the penalty of dismissal from the clerical state has not been applied because of advanced age or infirmity, the offender will lead a life of prayer and penance. He may not celebrate Mass publicly or administer the sacraments. He may not wear clerical garb or present himself publicly as a priest. He will be directed not to have any unsupervised contact with vulnerable persons. The Archdiocese will provide appropriate psychological and medical care to clergy in this circumstance.
  • The priest or deacon may at any time request a return to the lay state and a dispensation from the obligations of the clerical state.
  • Members of the parish/school or other agency in which the accused last served will be notified by the Archbishop’s office. Parishioners will be informed about how to report child abuse, and parents will be advised on how to discuss child abuse with their children. Care will be taken at all times to protect the identity of the victim/survivor and his or her family. If the clergy or lay employee had previous assignments or employment, these parishes, schools or agencies also will be notified.
  • Accurate and complete reports of the accusation and investigation, as well as all actions and notifications by the Archdiocese and/or other authorities, will be kept by the Chancellor in strict and secure confidence. These records will be maintained indefinitely.

Procedures When An Accusation Cannot Be Substantiated

When an accusation cannot be substantiated by diocesan or civil authorities, the Archbishop shall:

  • Convene the Archdiocese of Louisville Sexual Abuse Review Board to determine fitness for ministry and to decide upon any restrictions of ministry.
  • Inform the accuser and the accused of the results of the investigation and the recommendation of the Sexual Abuse Review Board, and offer pastoral assistance as necessary.
  • Require the accused to observe any recommendation of his or her psychological assessment.
  • Maintain accurate and complete reports of the accusation and investigation, as well as all actions and notifications by the Archdiocese and/or other authorities.  These records will be kept by the Chancellor in strict and secure confidence and will be maintained indefinitely.

False Accusations

Victims of abuse suffer significant trauma. Those who are subject to false accusations of sexual abuse or misconduct also suffer greatly. The Archdiocese will strive to minimize the adverse personal or professional consequences of false accusations and to preserve future ministry and employment opportunities of persons falsely accused of sexual abuse or misconduct.

  • The Archdiocese will provide necessary emotional and spiritual support through counseling and other pastoral services.
  • The Archdiocese will work with the accused to restore his or her good name and to create a workable plan for the future.
  • In consultation with the person who has been falsely accused, the Archdiocese will appropriately inform the faith community and the local parish of the outcome of the investigative process and of the need for support and justice.
  • The Archdiocese will advise the person who has been falsely accused of his or her options under both civil and canon law (cc. 1390-1391) to address false accusations.

Procedures for Sexual Misconduct

Sexual misconduct is inappropriate adult behavior by Church personnel related to Church employment or ministry. Two categories of behavior are included: 1) sexual exploitation (sexual contact between Church personnel and an adult who is receiving counseling or other ministerial care from that priest, deacon, employee, seminarian, religious or volunteer) and 2) sexual harassment. Sexual harassment includes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. Sexual harassment occurs whenever a hostile environment is created through humor, vulgar comments, sexually suggestive cartoons, e-mail messages or posters, as well as actual physical abuse.

The Archdiocese prohibits any form of sexual misconduct. This prohibition applies to all employees and volunteers, including clergy, religious, seminarians, and lay persons.

Reporting Procedures

If criminal behavior (e.g. rape, attempted rape, assault, stalking) is involved, the behavior should be immediately reported to the police and to the Chancellor. If in doubt about whether behavior is criminal, call the police.

Those adults who believe they have been sexually exploited or harassed, or anyone else who becomes aware of the possibility of sexual misconduct related to Church personnel in Church employment or ministry, must report this information to the alleged offender’s immediate supervisor and to the Chancellor of the Archdiocese. If the accused is a pastor, the information should be reported to the Archbishop or his delegate.

For employment-related harassment, please see the Archdiocese of Louisville Personnel Policies.

Investigative Procedures

When an accusation of sexual misconduct is made, the archdiocesan investigation will proceed with a high level of pastoral care, compassion and confidentiality for the person making the accusation and for the accused. The following actions will be taken when an accusation of sexual misconduct has been received:

  • If civil authorities are conducting a criminal investigation, the Archdiocese will defer to their investigative processes and will notify the accused of his or her right to retain the assistance of civil and canonical counsel.
  • Diocesan priests or deacons against whom an allegation has been lodged may be placed on administrative leave or have ministry restrictions placed upon them.
  • Religious priests, deacons or lay religious against whom an allegation has been lodged also may be placed on administrative leave with pay, pending the results of the archdiocesan investigation. The Archbishop or his delegate also will immediately contact the member’s competent ecclesiastical superior.
  • Lay personnel against whom an allegation has been lodged may be suspended with pay, pending the results of the archdiocesan or criminal investigation.
  • Volunteers against whom an allegation has been lodged may be directed not to participate in all volunteer ministry or activities in the Archdiocese, pending the results of the archdiocesan or criminal investigation.
  • The accused may be asked to seek an appropriate medical and psychological assessment from a provider mutually acceptable to the Archdiocese and to the accused. This assessment may be requested whether or not the accused admits to wrongdoing. The Archdiocese will pay for this evaluation. Agreement to participate in an assessment does not constitute an admission of guilt.
  • Accused personnel may be asked to provide the Archbishop or his designee with an authorization for release to the Archdiocese of diagnostic information related to the accusation in question.
  • The Victim Assistance Coordinator or other designee of the Archbishop will contact the person making the accusation to provide support and counseling. Throughout the process, the Victim Assistance Coordinator will keep the accuser informed about the progress of the archdiocesan investigation.
  • During an archdiocesan investigation, the person making the accusation will be contacted to obtain additional information.
  • In an archdiocesan investigation, the archdiocesan investigator will interview the accuser and other corroborating witnesses. If the accused is still living, that person will be interviewed and his or her work history and any psychological assessments will be reviewed.
  • When necessary, the Archdiocese of Louisville Sexual Abuse Review Board may review the results of the internal investigation to determine the validity of the claim and to make a preliminary recommendation to the Archbishop about the claim and about the accused’s fitness for ministry or employment.
  • Notification of all accusations will be given to insurers in accordance with the terms of applicable insurance policies.

 

Procedures When An Accusation is Substantiated

Whether through a criminal process or an internal investigation, when an accusation of sexual exploitation is considered substantiated, the following steps will be taken:

Substantiation is determined through several factors, including but not limited to findings from criminal trials, admissions, reviews of work histories and employment records, data gathered from psychological assessments, and testimony from victims/survivors and other witnesses.

  • The accused may be 1) immediately relieved of the exercise of any function or responsibility of ministry and/or employment in the Archdiocese, 2) have permanent restrictions placed upon his or her ministry or employment, or 3) be returned to ministry or employment.
  • If the offender is to continue in ministry or employment, he or she will be asked to develop a behavior contract. This contract will state clearly what the Archdiocese expects. It will stipulate acceptable behavior, help define ministerial boundaries, establish a monitoring team, develop an aftercare program, and state explicit consequences if the offender violates the terms of the contract.
  • Whether the accusation is substantiated or not, accurate and complete reports of the accusation and investigation, as well as all actions and notifications by the Archdiocese and/or other authorities, will be kept by the Chancellor in strict and secure confidence. These records will be maintained indefinitely.

 

Procedures When An Accusation Cannot Be Substantiated

When an accusation cannot be substantiated the Archbishop will:

  • Determine fitness for ministry or employment and decide upon any restrictions of ministry.
  • Inform the accuser and accused of the results of the investigation and offer pastoral assistance as necessary.
  • Require the accused to observe any recommendation of his or her psychological assessment, when applicable.
  • Maintain, whether the accusation is substantiated or not, accurate and complete reports of the accusation and investigation, as well as all actions and notifications by the Archdiocese and/or other authorities.  These records will be kept by the Chancellor in strict and secure confidence and will be maintained indefinitely.

 

False Accusations

Victims of abuse suffer significant trauma. Those who are subject to false accusations of sexual abuse or misconduct also suffer greatly. The Archdiocese will strive to minimize the adverse personal or professional consequences of false accusations and to preserve future ministry and employment opportunities of persons falsely accused of sexual abuse or misconduct.

  • The Archdiocese will provide necessary emotional and spiritual support through counseling and other pastoral services.
  • The Archdiocese will work with the accused to restore his or her good name and to create a workable plan for the future.
  • In consultation with the person who has been falsely accused, the Archdiocese will appropriately inform the faith community and the local parish of the outcome of the investigative process and of the need for support and justice.
  • The Archdiocese will advise the person who has been falsely accused of his or her options under both civil and canon law (cc.1390-1391) to address false accusations.
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