New Sex Abuse Policy Requires Priest Removal
Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta Releasing Plan

By Gayle White and Don O'Briant
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Downloaded August 7, 2003

Each reported incident of alleged sexual abuse shall be investigated immediately by the archbishop or his designated representative, in cooperation with any state or federal criminal investigation.

The archbishop must notify the diocesan advisory board of any allegations of sex abuse and must conduct, or oversee, an investigation to determine the credibility of any allegation.

The accused person must be put on administrative leave during the investigation.

Where sexual abuse by a member of the clergy is admitted or determined by the archbishop to be actionable, the accused shall be permanently removed from active ministry and will not be transferred to another diocese.

Church personnel who have reasonable cause to believe that sexual abuse has occurred shall report that abuse as required by law, unless the report would violate the priest-penitent relationship of the sacrament of Penance.

If the allegations are not "actionable," the archbishop is allowed to determine whether the person accused will be returned to a previous position.

Pastoral care shall be provided for both victim and accused.

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta is releasing a policy today that requires the removal of any priest found guilty of sexual abuse and obligates church personnel to report suspicions to church authorities.

It also requires background checks for employees who deal with children.

The new policy, developed after a year of discussion and review, also promises cooperation with civil authorities and establishes a board to advise the archbishop on handling abuse allegations. But the decision about whether an allegation is actionable remains firmly in the hands of the archbishop.


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