Archbishop of New York Appoints Retired Judge to Review Sex Abuse Cases
September 10, 2018
The Archbishop of New York, Timothy Cardinal Dolan, appointed retired Judge Barbara Jones as an independent reviewer of sexual abuse cases Thursday.
Most recently, Jones reviewed documents in the Michael Cohen case.
Cardinal Dolan, in an on-camera news conference, concedes the "summer of hell" that laid bare the scope of abuse and the inaction of bishops across the country left the flock "bewildered, frustrated and angry."
Dolan asked Jones to study the archdiocese and how it deals with accusations of abuse. She has been promised complete access to records, personnel and to Dolan himself.
The announcement follows Wednesday's announcement by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops to establish a hotline, monitored by a third party, to field complaints of abuse of minors and harassment of adults.
New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood has already set up a clergy abuse hotline and online complaint form for the state for victims and anyone with information.
Victims and anyone with information about abuse can call the hotline at 1-800-771-7755 or file a complaint online at ag.ny.gov/ClergyAbuse. An investigator will review all allegations, and the attorney general and law enforcement partners will seek to protect the identity of victims and witnesses.
Dolan didn't mention the state investigation during his news conference, instead citing pressure from ordinary Catholics.
"If I lost the trust of my people and this community, I don't have a lot left," he said.
He told Jones, who appeared alongside him at the news conference, that he was praying her "careful review and hard questions will help my good people renew their trust in the church they love and the leaders they want to believe."
The New York Archdiocese covers Manhattan, the Bronx and Staten Island in New York City, as well as the state counties of Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Sullivan, Ulster and Westchester north of the city. It is the nation's second-largest archdiocese after Los Angeles.
Jones, 71, who has repeatedly served in roles calling for an outside independent monitor or arbiter, said she has already begun an initial review of archdiocese efforts going back over 25 years.
"Based upon this review I certainly see a robust infrastructure in place with the archdiocese," she said. "But my job now will be to evaluate the effectiveness of the existing programs and policies in that infrastructure."
Jones said her purview would include policies on workplace harassment and abuse of authority involving adults in addition to the sexual abuse of minors.
Jones, who left the Manhattan federal bench in 2013, finished her work only weeks ago as a court-appointed special master who helped review millions of documents and files seized by the FBI from President Donald Trump's former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen. Her role was to referee disputes over which documents were protected by attorney-client privilege.
Jones was an assistant U.S. attorney in Manhattan and chief assistant to former Manhattan District Attorney Robert M. Morgenthau before she was appointed a judge in 1995 by President Bill Clinton. As a federal prosecutor, she served as chief of the Organized Crime Strike Force Unit.
After leaving the bench, she joined the law firm Bracewell, where she has specialized in white collar defense and internal investigations.
In her role as an arbitrator, she ruled in 2014 that former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice could play football again after concluding that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell had made an "abuse of discretion" in suspending Rice indefinitely after video emerged of him beating his wife into unconsciousness in an elevator.
She also has served on a panel reviewing the New York City Police Department's discipline policies and was appointed at the University of Michigan to review disciplinary actions against students accused of sexual or gender-based misconduct.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report)