iObserve (Diocese of Springfield MA]
January 12, 2022
Springfield Bishop William D. Byrne has announced the creation of a nine-person committee to oversee the implementation of the recommendations of the Independent Task Force on the Response to Sexual Abuse within the Diocese of Springfield. The Task Force’s strategic plan was shared with the public last September (http://diospringfield.org/12026-2/).
The committee members are Peter Caffrey, Henry East-Trou, Kristina Drzal Houghton, Jackie Humphreys, Ronald Johnson, Andrew Rome, James Ross, Jose Tosado, and Irene Woods. Caffrey is a survivor of clergy sexual abuse.
Jeffrey Trant, director of the diocesan Office of Safe Environment and Victim Assistance, will serve as senior staff to the committee.
“The Implementation and Oversight Committee is an important next step in turning the strategic plan that was developed with input from survivors, clergy and the broader community from words into concrete and meaningful actions,” said Trant. “The committee will set priorities, measure outcome, and serve as a critical ‘check and balance’ to ensure the strategic plan is implemented.”
Upon receiving the task force’s report, Bishop Byrne asked its members to remain in place until the Implementation and Oversight Committee was named. Members of the task force nominated the slate of candidates, who are representative of the Diocese of Springfield and the broader western Massachusetts community and are rooted in lived experience.
In announcing the members of the Oversight Committee, Bishop Byrne said, “I am most grateful to this diverse group of individuals who come to us with a wide range of experience and who have accepted my invitation to help our diocese implement the recommendations of the task force, assuring that the diocese will improve its response to allegations of abuse within our church community and ensure that we make every effort not to repeat our past failures. We owe this to victims and survivors of abuse, along with all in the community we serve.”
The naming of this committee is the latest action undertaken by the diocese to improve its safe environment efforts. In June 2019, Trant was hired as the director of the diocesan Office of Safe Environment and Victim Assistance. Under his leadership, and with the support of diocesan leadership, the diocese commissioned the Judge Peter Velis investigation; brought on a new team of investigators; and signed a joint memorandum of understanding with the three district attorneys’ offices, whose jurisdictions cover all of western Massachusetts.
In addition, the diocese appointed the Independent Task Force on the Response to Sexual Abuse within the Diocese of Springfield, and, last spring, issued an updated list of persons credibly accused of sexual abuse of a minor, which now includes lay personnel and deceased clergy.
Biographies of committee members can be read here: Implementation And Oversight Committee Google Docs print