Bishop Accountability

Fall River Resources – June 2003

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Connolly teacher charged

By Herald News Staff
(Fall River MA) Herald News
June 11, 2003

FALL RIVER -- A Bishop Connolly High School teacher was arrested last week and charged with enticing a child under 16.

Sean P. Mullin, 22, of 26 Montgomery St., Lakeville, is also charged with selling/delivering liquor to a person under age 21, attempting to commit a crime and three counts of (showing/distributing) obscene matter to a minor.

Mullin was arraigned Friday in Fall River Trial Court. Judge James O’Neill continued the case to Aug. 1 for a pretrial hearing and released Mullin on his own recognizance.

A spokesman for the diocese said Mullin, an English teacher, was placed on leave as soon as school officials learned of the charges against him.

"When school officials were made aware of some allegations brought by DSS (the state Department of Social Services), he was immediately put on administrative leave where he remains now," said John Kearns of the Diocese of Fall River’s Office of Communication.

Kearns, who said he was unsure if Mullin’s leave is paid, said the teacher will remain on administrative leave until the disposition of his cases.

"The teacher has not returned to the school," he said.

Kearns also reported that the alleged incidents did not occur on the high school’s grounds.

Police spokeswoman Detective Lisa Ahaesy said Mullin was arrested Friday after an investigation by Detective Steven Roseberry of the Major Crimes Division’s Sexual Abuse Unit.

Under victim protection laws in cases of such a sensitive nature, Ahaesy could only say that the alleged victim is a male under the age of 16.

There was an unconfirmed report that the alleged victim is a freshman at the school.

Open letter to the People of the Diocese of Palm Beach

By Seán P. O’Malley
Diocese of Palm Beach and Florida Caholic
June 12, 2003

As Bishop of the Diocese of Palm Beach, and in the name of the entire hierarchy of the Church, I write to offer my apology to all victims of sexual abuse by clergy, religious, or other church personnel. I realize that no words can ever make up for the pain and betrayal you have experienced, but I want to try to do what I can to promote healing for you and for all those affected by this abuse.

If you are a victim of abuse by a member of the clergy or other Church personnel, and it would assist you in your healing, I would gladly meet with you in person. Please call my office at (561) 775-9595 to schedule an appointment. Recognizing the deep and lasting trauma of sexual abuse within the Church, we offer pastoral counseling or support groups to those affected. For more information, you may contact our Assistance Coordinator, Ms. Terry Fretterd, at (561) 801-0999.

I want to assure you and everyone within the Diocese of Palm Beach, that we are taking seriously our obligation to maintain a safe environment for children and youth within the Church. To that end, we have increased the amount and scope of background screening for all clergy, religious, and lay employees as well as certain volunteers. Although background screening has long been a part of our diocesan policy, we now require fingerprinting for a national FBI search and have extended this requirement to all volunteers who interact with children or youth.

To raise awareness about maintaining safe environments within the Church, we are providing educational programs and ongoing training for all Church personnel. We will soon have programs in place for parents and other interested adults, which will be available at numerous sites free of charge. Our schools already provide age appropriate programs on personal safety, but even those are being reviewed and enhanced for the coming school year.

The Diocese has a Code of Conduct to which all Church Personnel must comply, as well as detailed policies and procedures for implementing the recently approved United States Bishops' Charter for the Protection of Children and Youth. The Charter, Norms and our own Diocesan policy appear on our diocesan website: Procedures for reporting any suspected abuse by Church Personnel can also be found there.

I want to assure all our people that the Diocese of Palm Beach is committed to immediate reporting of all incidences of alleged abuse by Church personnel to the proper authorities. And we pledge full cooperation with those authorities in their investigation. There will be no cover-up.

To assist me in reviewing these allegations once they have been properly reported to civil authorities, we have in place an independent Review Board, which numbers among its members the parent of a victim, law enforcement officers, a child and adolescent psychiatrist as well as a medical doctor, a rabbi, a licensed clinical social worker, and other persons with knowledge and experience in this field. I have met with this Board twice already to review our current policies and procedures and am most pleased with their level of expertise and professionalism.

In closing I want to once again express my own personal apology for any hurt and distress that has been caused by failures on the part of clergy, religious, Church personnel and those Bishops who failed to take the proper actions in relation to abusers. Most especially, I regret that too little attention was given to the victims of this horrendous crime. I pray that the transparency now required by the Church in our country, as well as the pastoral, spiritual, and psychological assistance now available, will encourage victims and their families to come forward and receive the assistance they need and certainly deserve. I pledge to do everything in my power to see that this is so.

Let us move forward together to bring about permanent healing within ourselves and in our Church. May God bless you all. I ask for your continued prayers for me, as your Bishop, for the Church, and for all those affected by abuse of any kind.

Devotedly yours in Christ,
Bishop of Palm Beach


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