Contact a Victims Assistance Coordinator:
Sr. Eileen Clifford, O.P.
Deacon George J. Coppola
PROCEDURES FOR DEALING WITH VICTIMS OF SEXUAL ABUSE BY A CLERIC
The Archdiocese of New York is committed to providing victims of sexual abuse by a cleric (i.e. bishop, priest, deacon) with appropriate professional and spiritual assistance to address the consequences of the abuse. All allegations of sexual abuse are forwarded to the appropriate Archdiocesan officials and when the Archdiocese has reason to suspect abuse has occurred, to the proper district attorney and/or law enforcement authorities.
The Victims Assistance Coordinator* will respond promptly to persons who contact the Archdiocese concerning sexual abuse of a minor by a cleric and will offer to meet with them. The purpose of the meeting is to acknowledge the allegation, empathetically listen to the alleged victim, inform the individual of the help which is available and the procedures of the investigation.
The individual making the allegation is also asked to put his or her allegation in writing. This document is to be signed by the complainant. A simple form is available from the Archdiocese to allow the complainant to submit the allegation. As an alternative, the individual making the allegation may be interviewed by two Archdiocesan officials, and the interview transcribed.
Whenever a complaint is received by an Archdiocesan official that a cleric has sexually abused a minor, the complainant, or, if the complainant is a child, the complainant's parents or guardians, will be strongly urged to report the allegation immediately and directly to the appropriate District Attorney's Office. The Archdiocese will cooperate with any criminal investigation by the District Attorney's Office. When an Archdiocesan official has reason to suspect that a cleric has sexually abused a minor, the Archdiocese will immediately refer the matter to the appropriate District Attorney's Office for investigation. The Archdiocese, after consultation with the appropriate District Attorney's Office, will take appropriate action concerning the cleric, as warranted, including removing the cleric from his assignment, to ensure the safety of minors.
The Victims Assistance Coordinator will notify the Archdiocesan Attorney, the Promoter of Justice and appropriate Archdiocesan officials of the allegation. A preliminary investigation, in harmony with canon law, will be initiated and conducted promptly and objectively.
Allegations cannot be received under condition of anonymity given the Archdiocese's policy to report this information to the appropriate District Attorney's Office. Aware of the sensitive nature of a complaint of sexual abuse for both the person bringing the complaint and for the cleric involved, the Archdiocese does strive to keep the process confidential. However, the person bringing the complainant is informed that in keeping with Archdiocesan policy, the District Attorney, the cleric, and the Advisory Board will all be informed of the particulars of the complaint. In addition, a canon law proceeding may be initiated.
The civil and canonical rights of all involved will be respected while the Archdiocese seeks to offer assistance.
The Victims Assistance Coordinator works with each individual to determine the assistance that is necessary and appropriate. This may include counseling, spiritual assistance, and referrals to support groups.
As appropriate and if requested, the Victims Assistance Coordinator will assist the victim in obtaining outpatient counseling, recommend licensed and qualified providers and facilitate spiritual and mental health support. If the Archdiocese assumes the cost of treatment periodic reports from the therapist about the therapy's general progress will be expected. The Victims Assistance Coordinator works closely with all victims to monitor their changing needs over time.
The Victims Assistance Coordinator will keep in contact with the individual and his or her family, if appropriate.
The Victims Assistance Coordinator also keeps the person making the allegation informed of the progress of the review and outcome.
*Victims Assistance Coordinator - an individual designated by the Archbishop to receive and coordinate the handling of allegations of child abuse by Archdiocesan personnel.