By SOLVEJG WASTVEDT
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse and seven district attorneys announced a new agreement on handling of sexual abuse cases Wednesday. The memorandum of understanding requires the diocese to report all abuse claims directly to the appropriate DA, whether they involve current or former clergy. Onondaga District Attorney Bill Fitzpatrick introduced the agreement.
“There is no potential offender who is presenting any danger to any child in central New York,” he said.
Fitzpatrick says he knows this because the memorandum released today has been a verbal agreement for 12 years. The document requires the diocese to refer all allegations or suspected sexual abuse of a minor directly to the appropriate DA. The diocese will not conduct independent investigations, and will make an effort to preserve evidence. Fitzpatrick says that’s the way they have been working and that Bishop Robert Cunningham has always cooperated.
The memorandum is a change from official diocese policy, though, which was last revised in 2007. That policy promises that allegations involving current diocese personal will be reported to law enforcement. It does not have a provision for cases where the alleged abuser is no longer in the church.
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