DIOCESE OF MONTEREY CA
In June 2002, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops adopted the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. The Charter is a pledge by the Bishops to work together to prevent the sexual abuse of children by all those who minister in the name of the Church. Specifically, the Diocese of Monterey has implemented all the safeguards required by the Charter. These include:
• A Pastoral Response Coordinator who works with all those who allege sexual misconduct by anyone associated with the Diocese.
The Diocese of Monterey’s Pastoral Response Coordinator is Martina O’Sullivan, MSW. Ms. O’Sullivan is also Executive Director of Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Monterey. Bishop Ryan appointed Ms. O’Sullivan to this position in July 2002. Since that time, she has made herself available to provide outreach to those who claim to be victims of clerical sexual misconduct in the Diocese of Monterey.
The outreach program provides for psychological counseling and spiritual direction in a program customized for each individual’s needs. Ms. O’Sullivan works with the individual’s counselor or assists the victim in finding an appropriate counselor to assist with the healing process. The program offers spiritual direction as well. Ms. O’Sullivan has a confidential toll-free voice mail number available to victims. That number is 1-800-321-5220. Anyone who believes that he or she is a victim of sexual misconduct by anyone ministering in the Diocese of Monterey should use that number to contact Ms. O’Sullivan.
• An Independent Review Board which provides confidential consultation to the bishop whenever an allegation of sexual misconduct is brought against anyone who ministers in the name of the Church.
The Review Board consists of eight members of outstanding integrity. The Chairman is Jack McGilvray, a retired Chief of Police. The other members include: a respected pastor within the Diocese of Monterey, a retired Chief of Police, a psychologist, a marriage and family counselor, a teacher, a physician and a behavioral health manager. All but two of the members are lay Catholics. No one but the pastor is in the employ of the Diocese of Monterey. The bishop appoints the members of the Independent Review Board.
The Independent Review Board serves two essential purposes. First, the Board assists the Bishop in determining the merits of the allegation of sexual misconduct. Second, the Board consults with the Bishop to determine whether the cleric is suitable to continue in active ministry. The Diocese of Monterey consults the Review Board about all allegations of sexual misconduct regardless of whether the allegation involves a cleric, religious, lay employee or volunteer. The Board functions in a highly confidential manner and is completely independent of the Diocese of Monterey.
• A Director of the Safe Environment Program who implements and monitors the Safe Environment Program.
The Director of the Safe Environment Program is Sister Patricia Murtagh, I.M. Sister Patricia also serves as the diocesan Chancellor. The Diocese of Monterey developed this important program with the assistance of skilled professionals working for the Diocese as well as volunteer consultants from around the Diocese. The Safe Environment Program provides safeguards aimed at preventing the sexual abuse of children and young people. The program has several parts including a Code of Conduct for Pastoral Ministers who work as paid employees or volunteers. It also requires that sexual abuse of children be reported to the civil authorities as well as to the Diocese of Monterey. Sister Patricia is meeting with parents, catechists, pastors and others to educate them about the Safe Environment Program as well as child abuse and prevention, generally. To date she has conducted thirty courses throughout the diocese and reached 1,300 participants.
The Safe Environment Program is the cornerstone of the Charter. The Diocese of Monterey has developed an exemplary Safe Environment Program completely in house and designed specifically for the special needs of this Diocese [see audit results discussed below] The Observer published the Safe Environment Program in English and Spanish over the past two months. It is also available on the Protection of Children page of Diocese of Monterey’s website at http://www.dioceseofmontery.org. Some of the important highlights include the following:
• A Code of Conduct for all Pastoral Ministers. This Code of Conduct is applicable equally to clerics, religious men and women, paid employees and lay volunteers. Anyone who ministers in any way to children and young people is bound to this Code of Conduct. Each pastoral minister must sign that he or she has read and understands the provisions of the Code of Conduct.
• The Code of Conduct requires that each pastoral minister treat each child and young person with respect and dignity.
• Pastoral ministers must submit to a criminal background check which consists of a fingerprint check through the California Department of Justice and, for paid employees, through the FBI as well.
• Pastoral ministers should not work one on one with children and young people. The ideal is that there always be at least two adults present with children. If there cannot be two, there must be another adult in the vicinity who can monitor the interaction of the adult and children.
• Pastoral ministers are not permitted to be alone with children and young people in private homes, sleeping facilities, hotel rooms, locker rooms, dressing facilities, closed rooms and other similar isolated areas.
• Pastoral ministers have a duty to report suspected child abuse to the civil authorities. The Diocese of Monterey commits itself to full cooperation with any criminal investigation of a cleric, religious, lay employee or volunteer.
• Each parish is to have a Safe Environment Coordinator who is responsible for ensuring the implementation of this important program.
• Pastoral ministers are also to report allegation of sexual misconduct to an appropriate person including the diocesan Chancellor, the Vicar General, the Superintendent of Schools, the Director of Human Resources or the General Counsel. The Diocese of Monterey pledges to investigate any claim of sexual misconduct fully and to discipline any one who is found to have engaged in sexual misconduct.
Sister Patricia is available as a resource for parishes and departments and provides direct assistance in providing speakers and materials to the parishes and schools.
• Criminal Background Checks are required of all employees and volunteers who have supervisory or disciplinary authority over children.
An important Charter mandate requires that all employees and volunteers who have disciplinary or supervisory authority over children and young people submit to a criminal background check. In the Diocese of Monterey, we have implemented a fingerprint background check which has been used by our Catholic Schools department since 1985. All employees and volunteers are asked to be fingerprinted using the LiveScan method. LiveScan is the new technology in fingerprinting in which fingerprints are electronically transmitted to the Department of Justice in Sacramento. We have requested that as many employees and volunteers as possible complete the fingerprinting process by January 2004. After January 2004, all new parish employees and volunteers who have supervisory or disciplinary authority over children must be fingerprinted before they work or volunteer. For more information on the criminal background check see the Protection of Children and Young People page on the diocesan website, www.dioceseofmonterey.org.
• A survey of the Church in the United States of the statistics of sexual misconduct by clerics.
The National Independent Review Board commissioned this survey from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. This survey required each diocese in the United States to report on the number of allegations of sexual misconduct (whether proved or not), the total number of clerics living in each Diocese over the past fifty years (or from the inception of the diocese whichever is longer) to June 2002, the amount of money the Diocese has paid in settlements or judgments for clergy sexual misconduct over the same period.
In July 2003, the Diocese of Monterey submitted its statistics on clerical sexual misconduct to the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. We reported that since 1967, there have been seventeen clerics accused of sexual misconduct involving a minor out of approximately 355 clerics working in the Diocese of Monterey from 1967 to June 2002. Of the seventeen claims, in four cases the Diocese of Monterey concluded they were not credible. In the other claims, the cleric was either dead, out of ministry, removed from ministry or because of the passage of time, the Diocese could not determine the merits of the claim. However, it is important to note that at this time, there is no cleric in ministry who has a credible claim of sexual misconduct against him involving a child. All of these allegations have been reviewed by the Diocesan Independent Review Board.
The Diocese of Monterey has paid a settlement in one of these cases of $45,000. This settlement was paid completely with insurance money. In addition, there have been three civil cases filed against the Diocese of Monterey, in which the alleged sexual misconduct took place before the Diocese of Monterey was formed. These three cases are not included in the statistics listed above.
• An audit of each diocese’s implementation of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.
Audits began in the summer and ended in the last week of October 2003. A team of former FBI agents audited each diocese in the United States. The audit team’s job was to determine how well the diocese was implementing the Charter. The Diocese of Monterey audit occurred in the last week of October. The audit results were very favorable.
The audit commissioned by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops required that each diocese in the United States be evaluated for compliance with the Charter mandates as outlined above. The auditors spent four full days at the Diocese of Monterey Pastoral Office. While they were with us, they reviewed numerous documents and interviewed dozens of employees and volunteers from all parts of the Diocese of Monterey. At the end of the audit, the auditors presented the Diocese with an audit report.
The auditors found the Diocese of Monterey to be in compliance with the Charter and, moreover, they included a commendation for our Safe Environment Program. The auditors wrote, “The Diocese of Monterey is to be especially commended for its earnest adoption of the principles and spirit of the Charter. A highly effective Policy Against Sexual Misconduct in concert with a Safe Environment Program are the cornerstones of a synergistic effort within the Diocese. The Auditors noted the many personal actions of outreach, support, openness, and transparency, and the Diocese of Monterey merits special commendation for fostering these attitudes."
The Diocese of Monterey also received four recommendations which primarily included the alteration of some language in the Policy Against Sexual Misconduct so that our policy and practice are cohesive. We received no instructions. Instructions are areas of deficiency which must be remedied. We understand that a report outlining these results will be made public later this month.
As outlined above, the Diocese of Monterey is working diligently to ensure the safety of children and young people whenever they come into contact with anyone representing the Church in Monterey. We are proud of our successes and are working hard to rebuild the trust that may have been lost during the recent national sexual abuse scandal.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
As we have been discussing over the past several months, the Diocese of Monterey continues to focus its efforts and resources on protecting children and young people from sexual abuse by anyone who ministers in the name of the Church. As you may be aware, last year I appointed our Chancellor to oversee the Safe Environment Program which has recently been discussed in each deanery in the Diocese. I encourage you to familiarize yourself with this program, if you have not done so already, by visiting our website at www.dioceseofmonterey.org. You can also find our Policy Against Sexual Misconduct on our website.
As you may also be aware, since 1985 all school employees and school volunteers throughout the Diocese of Monterey have been fingerprinted. Beginning in 1998 all employees and volunteers working with minors in the parishes were screened under Megan’s Law. We also fingerprint all diocesan priests and as of last fall all diocesan employees and volunteers working with youth are being fingerprinted as well. I share this information with you so that you may have a sense of the importance we have placed over the years on screening individuals working with our youth.
During the last week of January, the Administrative Team and I met with parishioners, parents and employees to discuss the sexual misconduct cases pending against the Diocese of Monterey and to outline their potential financial impact on the Diocese. Many of you may recall the legislation which was passed in 2002 which enabled individuals to file lawsuits through December 31, 2003 against entities for acts of childhood sexual misconduct by its agents regardless of when the alleged abuse occurred.
At the end of October, we received an excellent report from the audit team, an outside group commissioned by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), which performed a comprehensive review of our compliance with the USCCBs’ Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.
Please be assured that to my knowledge there is no priest in ministry in the Diocese of Monterey with a credible claim of sexual misconduct against him.
In an effort to keep you informed as to the state of the diocese with regard to the sexual misconduct civil cases that have been filed against the Diocese of Monterey, I will be providing you with periodic updates. Below please find the first of those updates.
As I write this letter, we have seven separate actions pending against the Diocese of Monterey alleging sexual misconduct with four of those cases filed during December 2003. In all of these cases, the Diocese of Monterey intends to follow appropriate legal steps to defend itself while at the same time being sensitive to the victim(s)’ needs. I want to let you know that in the weeks and months to come, we may find that other cases have been filed against the Diocese of Monterey. If we learn of additional cases, I will keep you informed.
There are three general categories of cases filed against the Diocese of Monterey involving sexual misconduct. In all of these cases, the victim or victims either have been or will be offered counseling through our Pastoral Response Coordinator. As you will see, almost all of these cases involve allegations dating to the 1950s and 1960s and most of the priests are deceased.
1. Cases involving allegations of sexual misconduct that allegedly occurred after the creation of the Diocese of Monterey on December 18, 1967.
2. Cases involving allegations of sexual misconduct that occurred before December 18, 1967 or allegations that misconduct occurred in the geographic area of what is now the Diocese of Fresno.
3. Cases involving a religious entity or priest not under the control of the Diocese of Monterey.
The Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People encourages accountability and transparency. In that spirit, I also take this opportunity to inform you that the Diocese of Monterey has entered into a settlement agreement to resolve one of the sexual misconduct cases.
This case involved a priest named Fr. Michael McDonald who died in 1971 (this is not Fr. Martin McDonald who is still living and who does not have any connection whatsoever with this case). The individual alleged a relationship with Fr. McDonald from approximately 1964 to 1966. We made the decision to settle this case because we believed that doing so was in the best interests of the Diocese of Monterey and of the individual making the claim. The Diocese of Monterey paid $760,000 in this case. In addition, our insurance company also contributed to the settlement. The Diocese paid the settlement from a reserve account that has been accumulating income over the past several years. This income came from a real estate investment from which we receive regular distributions. This money was not taken from our current operating budget and will not have an impact on the programs and services that the Diocese provides to the parishes and parishioners. There will be no impact on the parishes from this settlement. In addition, we are working with our excess insurance carrier from the time involved to contribute to this settlement.
Anyone who believes that he or she is victim of childhood sexual abuse by a priest or a religious in the Diocese of Monterey is encouraged to contact Martina O’Sullivan, Pastoral Assistance Coordinator, at 1-800-321-5220.
I want to assure you of our firm commitment to continue our stewardship of the assets, ministries and outreach programs of the Diocese of Monterey. Please pray for all leaders in the Church who work on these sensitive issues, for the healing of all victims of childhood sexual abuse and for all people who work with children and young people.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Any original material on these pages is copyright © BishopAccountability.org 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.
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