Las Vegas, Nevada
The Diocese of Las Vegas (“the Diocese”), which was established in 1995, encompasses five Nevada counties, consists of 24 parishes and eight schools, has 32 diocesan priests, six deacons, and serves a population of 494,353 registered Catholics. The Most Reverend Joseph Pepe, who was installed as bishop in 2001, leads the Diocese. A compliance audit of the Diocese was conducted during the period of
July 14-18, 2003.
The information set forth below represents conditions as they were found during the week of the audit.
To Promote Healing and Reconciliation
The Diocese has established an outreach program. Although there have been no allegations of sexual abuse since June 2002, the bishop has stated his intention to meet with any victims/survivors who make allegations in the future. The victim assistance coordinator is Joanne Halt, who holds an advanced degree in psychology, with a specialization in counseling. The diocesan review board, which is also called the diocesan clergy misconduct oversight board, was established in 2003 and consists of five members, including one priest and four respected members of the lay community. The procedures for making a complaint of abuse are readily available in printed form. There have been no confidentiality agreements entered into by the Diocese since June 2002.
To Guarantee Effective Response to Allegations of Abuse of a Minor
The Diocese has established effective liaison with local civil authorities, ensuring an open dialogue regarding sexual abuse allegations. The Diocese has a procedure in place to advise victims/survivors of their right to report allegations of abuse by a member of the clergy to civil authorities. The Diocese has established a clear and well-publicized code of conduct for priests and deacons. The Diocese has a communications policy that reflects the bishop’s pledge to be open and transparent on issues regarding the sexual abuse of children.
To Ensure Accountability of Procedures
The Diocese has participated in the research study regarding the “nature and scope” of the problem of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy.
To Protect the Faithful in the Future
The Diocese has selected and implemented the VIRTUS safe environment program, consisting of presentations to all diocesan and parish personnel who have regular contact with children, and has developed a plan to monitor participation. The Diocese has publicized standards of conduct for priests and deacons, as well as diocesan employees, volunteers, and any other church personnel in positions of trust who have regular contact with children and young people. The Diocese is conducting background evaluations for all diocesan and parish personnel who have regular contact with minors. The Diocese has not transferred any priest or deacon who has had a credible allegation of sexual abuse lodged against him to another diocese for ministerial assignment. One priest has been transferred for residence, and the appropriate notifications have been made. The bishop and the major superiors have coordinated their respective roles regarding issues of allegations of sexual abuse made against a cleric member of a religious institute. The Diocese has not had an opportunity to cooperate with other churches, religious bodies, and institutions of learning in conducting research in the area of sexual abuse of minors. The Diocese has established screening and evaluative techniques in the selection of candidates for ordination and for the formation of priests.
Compliance with the Provisions of the Charter
As of December 1, 2003, the Diocese of Las Vegas was found to be compliant with the provisions of the Charter as measured by the process described in Chapter 2 in Section I. The Diocese was issued one Commendation.
COMMENDATION—For the pro-active preventative measures taken by the Diocese, such as a field trip questionnaire for all personnel accompanying youths on field trips, the long-standing requirement for background investigations for all personnel having regular contact with children, and the designation of a Protecting God’s Children coordinator for every parish in the Diocese.
The compliance audit measured activity that has occurred since the adoption of the Charter in June 2002 with the exception of certain mandated actions found in Articles 5 and 14. Actions taken by the diocese/eparchy prior to June 2002 to address allegations of sexual abuse of minors by priests and deacons are not included in this summary report.
Office of Child and Youth Protection
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
3211 4th Street, N.E., Washington, DC 20017-1194
(202) 541-5413 | FAX: (202) 541-5410