Review Board summarizes its deliberations
By Judge Michael J. Talbot, et al.
Posted on the Website of the Archdiocese of Detroit
Dear Cardinal Maida,
In September of 2002, you formally constituted the Archdiocesan Review Board mandated by the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. This board replaced the previous committee that had served since 1992 and had reviewed allegations of sexual abuse involving priests, deacons and other Church personnel.
The charge to the board was to serve as an advisory body: 1) to assist you in the assessment of and making recommendations regarding all allegations brought to the archdiocese concerning the sexual abuse of minors involving a priest, deacon, or other church personnel; 2) to make follow-up recommendations in particular cases where an allegation has been brought forward; and, 3) to review every two years the policy and make recommendations for change or modification. In addition, the board was to review various annual reports to be submitted in accord with the newly revised policy.
The board has met regularly, ordinarily on a monthly basis, to carry out its responsibilities. At a time when the National Review Board is issuing its findings, the archdiocesan board thought it appropriate to provide you with this status report with the thought that it might be helpful to share its contents with others.
The board reviewed all allegations involving priests and others that were brought forward. In reviewing these allegations, the investigative services of civil authorities were utilized and, in certain situations, where there was no civil investigation, the services of a private investigator were retained. In every instance, the board noted that each allegation was reported to civil authorities. Any accused or victim that wished to meet with the board was invited to do so; assistance to victims was facilitated by the Victim Assistance Coordinator. Ongoing contact and communication with the accused is coordinated by your delegate to the board and by the Office for Priestly Life and Ministry.
The results of the investigations during the tenure of the board resulted in seven priests being placed on administrative leave, being prohibited the exercise of any public ministry, prohibited from wearing clerical garb and publicly identifying themselves as priests. In all of these cases, further action under Church law is possible. As you acted upon our recommendations, the names of priests removed from ministry were identified. This, in certain instances, encouraged other victims to come forward. The board also provided recommendations to you on earlier cases, where priests had been previously removed.
The board continues its work and is committed to review and make recommendations to you on all allegations brought forward; victims' complaints, whenever and however they come to us, are handled in a timely and sensitive fashion.
It is also the view of the board that the archdiocese has taken a number of very positive steps to provide for the safety of children and young people:
1. The revised archdiocesan policy regarding matters of sexual abuse
has been recognized as a model and we are pleased to have been part of
its formulation. It has been published and distributed in booklet form
and is also available, along with other helpful resources, on the Archdiocese
of Detroit website at www.AODonline.org.
We believe that people of goodwill should see our letter as a sign of hope and the continuing commitment of the archdiocese and the board in an ongoing effort to protect our children and young people and to teach all about the prevention of abuse.
The past two years have been challenging for Catholics. As a board, we pledge to be as sensitive as we can to the pain that members of our local church are experiencing. To that end, it must be stressed that no one who has been a victim of abuse should ever hesitate to come forward, regardless of the passage of time, particular circumstances, or any hesitation up to this point. We urge all victims to come forward. They will be heard.
The Archdiocesan Review Board's members regard it as a privilege to serve at this difficult time and pledge our continued efforts to work on behalf of the people of the archdiocese. We are grateful for your personal support and the confidence and trust you have placed in us as members of this board. We ask your continued prayers for our efforts.
Judge Michael J. Talbot
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