Sexual Abuse Policies
[Note from BishopAccountability.org: This page contains six documents,
apparently distributed to its priests, principals, and administrators
as a package by the Wichita diocese:
-- POLICY ON SUSPECTED ABUSE OF CHILDREN --
Our Church defends the sanctity of human life at every stage, seeks to protect persons from injustice, and does not hesitate to condemn all that afflicts the human person. The Church is firmly committed to the care of families and their children. She considers abuse or neglect of children as contrary to Christian morality and as an offense against the dignity of the human person.
1. One such damaging violation occurs when children are sexually abused. In such a case, the Catholic Diocese of Wichita will have as its primary concern the alleged victim's safety and well-being. It will be committed to pastoral care for the alleged victim, the family, and for the accused. The actions described below are meant to ensure the safety of all, and to protect the rights of all, including the right to a good name for the accused. With these pastoral concerns in mind, the following steps will be the official policy of our Diocese.
2. Abusive sexual behavior in any form is outside the scope of employment for all persons in the Diocese. The Church strongly supports the state as it tries to deal with this social and moral evil. We intend to comply with all civil laws, and we also expect those serving with us to do so. All employees, affiliates and volunteers of the Diocese must comply with state and local laws as well as with Diocesan policy and guidelines about sexual child abuse.
3. This policy statement is meant to emphasize our deep pastoral concern for the victim and the family of the victim; to safeguard against fraudulent claims that may ruin the reputation of innocent persons; and to assist in the reconciliation of the offender and his or her family.
4. This document is intended to present guidelines that will thwart sexual child abuse, mitigate harm to others, and provide guidance to diocesan personnel in responding to allegations.
II. APPLICABLE LAW
1. The Kansas statutes and cases define the types of conduct that violate the law. A supplement to this Policy summarizes state law on sexual abuse of children.
2. The law changes from time to time. Because of this, all personnel should familiarize themselves with the changes that may occur. Regular diocesan updates of the law will be provided.
III. ACTION WHERE GUILT DETERMINED
1. Any non-clergy employee, volunteer or affiliate of the Diocese who admits to, does not contest, or is found guilty of an incident of sexual abuse of a child shall be terminated. Any clergy in similar circumstances will be suspended from the exercise of ministerial duties according to the provisions of canon law.
1. The Diocese will adopt practices and procedures to implement and disseminate this policy.
2. The successful implementation of this policy will require a judicious vigilance by all, including priests, school principals, administrators, and directors of ministries and services.
1. All Church workers must conduct themselves with prudence and virtue, being aware of our responsibility before God as ministers and as representatives of the Church, and being aware of the sensitivity of our times to these questions. The Policy on Suspected Abuse of Children and these Guidelines are set forth for the guidance of the priests, religious, and laity of our Church.
For the purposes of these Guidelines for Implementation the following definitions are applicable:
1. "Child" means any person under 18 years of age.
2. "Physical, mental or emotional abuse or neglect" means the physical, mental or emotional injury to a child.
3. "Sexual abuse" means any unlawful sexual act to or with a child as set forth under articles 35 and 36 of Chapter 21 of the Kansas Statutes Annotated.
4. "Personnel" encompasses all personnel of the Diocese including, priests, religious, principals of schools, administrators, and directors of ministries and services, officers and affiliates, lay employees, and lay volunteers who serve in a regular, ongoing apostolate to children
1. A copy of the Diocesan Policy On Suspected Abuse of Children as well as the Guidelines for Implementation of the Policy shall be sent to:
2. Each person involved in work with children in the Diocese will, upon receiving a copy of the Policy and the Guidelines, sign a receipt and return it to the person who distributed it. A copy of the Receipt shall be kept by the parish, institution or agency, ministry or service, obtaining the Receipt. The Receipt shall read
1. Every incident or allegation of suspected child sexual abuse by a diocesan worker (paid or volunteer), whether reportable to state officials or not, must be brought to the Bishop's attention promptly (within 24 hours). A written report shall follow as soon as practicable. Upon receipt of the oral report, the Bishop or his Vicar General will notify the Diocesan attorney. Generally, diocesan personnel should report to the person to whom they are responsible. Priests should report to the Bishop or Vicar General. If that person is not available, or should such a step be inappropriate, the report is made to the next person in the chain of responsibility.
2. Generally speaking, persons responsible for the care of children must report suspected sexual child abuse to civil authorities. Such reports are made to the Kansas Department of the Social and Rehabilitation Services (SRS). Persons who must report are those who deal with the care or supervision of children: for example, teachers, principals, other school officials, day care center workers or child care workers. Priests must report only when they are responsible for the care or supervision of children or fall within the statutory definitions. (See Kansas Law Summary attached to the Diocesan Policy, especially paragraphs 1, 2, 8 and 9.) When in doubt, please call the Vicar General.
The seal of sacramental confession is inviolable. Nothing a priest hears in Confession from either a perpetrator or victim may ever be revealed or reported.
3. The written report to the Diocese will contain the following:
(d) The full name, sex, age, address, and telephone number of the child who has been or is suspected to be the victim of sexual abuse, and the name, address and telephone number of the parents or guardian of such victim.
(e) A description of the incident of sexual abuse including date, time and location.
(f) The names, positions, addresses and telephone numbers of all eyewitnesses or others having information.
(g) Any additional information bearing on the incident that may be helpful to the investigation.
4. Those required to do so should report promptly to the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services (SRS hotline 1-800-922-5330). Persons reporting may speak with the diocesan legal counsel before phoning the SRS.
5. Any questions about the Diocesan Policy or the Implementation Guidelines should be directed to the Bishop, the Vicar General, or the Diocesan attorney.
1. Education on the sexual abuse of children and these Diocesan policies and guidelines will be conducted from time to time. Special programs will be designed for all personnel who work with or around children.
VI. BACKGROUND QUESTIONNAIRE
1. Beginning on October 1, 1992, the following people will complete a background and reference questionnaire, a copy of which is attached:
2. Completed questionnaires will be reviewed and, as appropriate, investigated by the pastor or other designee of the Bishop. The questionnaires will be kept in the individual’s personnel file and will remain confidential, with access limited to the pastor or other designee of the Bishop.
3. Agreements will be reached with the respective Ordinaries and Superiors of Religious Communities about non-incardinated priests and women and men religious who are nominated to work in the Diocese. These will stipulate that the Bishop of Wichita be informed of any alleged incidents of prior physical, mental, emotional, or sexual abuse of a child by such personnel.
VII. RESPONSE TEAM
1. Upon report of alleged sexual child abuse, the Bishop or his designee, will appoint and activate a Diocesan Response Team. This team will be an ad hoc group for each report. Its charge is to contact the family of the alleged victim promptly, and to let them know directly the Church's sincere pastoral concern. Generally, the Response Team should consist of:
2. The Response Team should make the deep Christian concern of the Church clear, and should inform those involved that steps are being taken to investigate the report and to prevent any further occurrences.
The Response Team should also reassure them that they are not being asked to give up legal rights against anyone -- the accused or the Church. The family should be told clearly and repeatedly that the Diocese will make a sincere effort to determine the truth and to deal appropriately with the accused.
This Response Team, where appropriate, should offer the child and the family psychological counseling, at diocesan expense, in addition to spiritual counseling. The Response Team will advise the Bishop or his designee in writing of the family's response to its actions and offer of counseling.
VIII. EVALUATION COUNCIL
1. Each report of sexual child abuse will also be directed immediately to one or more members of an Evaluation Council. This Council shall include, but not be limited to:
Additionally, on any specific complaint, the Bishop or his Vicar General may add to the Evaluation Council persons who have some knowledge of the family involved.
2. One or more members of the Evaluation Council shall:
3. When clinical evaluation of the accused is desired, it should be done after consultation with the Bishop or his Vicar General, and by a clinic, group or doctor, paid by and responsible to the Bishop or the Vicar General.
4. If treatment of the accused is recommended by the Evaluation Council, the Diocese may provide the funds to pay for such counseling or therapy, for a period of time to be determined by the Bishop or his designee. In the event the Diocese provides funds for such treatment, the accused will execute appropriate release documents directing all therapists to furnish the Bishop status reports on that treatment, including their professional opinion of the prognosis and anticipated results of treatment.
5. All accused should be advised of the criminal nature of the sexual abuse of children and should consider obtaining legal counsel. Diocesan legal counsel cannot be chosen because of a potential conflict of interest.
IX. MEDIA REPRESENTATIVE
1. The Bishop or his designee will be the Diocesan Media Representative. The Media Representative may advise members of the media of the substance of the policy, or of an incident, and of what is being done. The rights of the accused must be respected. The Diocesan Media Representative should inform media personnel that the primary concern of the Church is a pastoral concern for all -- victims and their families and the accused -- and that any incidental harm to the Church as an institution is of secondary consideration.
1. To protect the reputation and good name of both accused and children, those who know of an incident or case of sexual child abuse should disclose information only to those authorized to receive such under Kansas law or under these Guidelines and the Diocesan policy.
2. There is always the possibility of false accusations or unsubstantiated claims. It is important for all diocesan personnel to know that both civil law and canon law (canons 1390-1391) provide penalties for the crime of falsehood flowing from false denunciation and calumny.
Recommended by the Presbyteral Council and approved by the Bishop
Most Rev. Eugene J. Gerber
The following is a summary of Kansas law about reporting and other requirements relating to child abuse.
1. Who Must Report? According to Kansas State Law (K.S.A. 38-1522) when there is reason to suspect a child has been injured as the result of physical, mental or emotional abuse or neglect or sexual abuse, a report must be made by the following persons:
“Persons licensed to practice the healing arts or dentistry; persons licensed to practice optometry; persons engaged in postgraduate training programs approved by the state board of healing arts; licensed psychologists; licensed professional or practical nurses examining, attending or treating a child under the age of 18; teachers, school administrators or other employees of a school which the child is attending; chief administrative officers of medical care facilities; registered marriage and family therapists; persons licensed by the secretary of health and environment to provide child care services or the employees of persons so licensed at the place where the child care services are being provided to the child; licensed social workers; firefighters; emergency medical services personnel; mediators appointed under K.S.A. 23-602 and amendments thereto; and law enforcement officers."
2. Priests and Religious. Priests and religious must report when they are responsible for the care or supervision of children, when they fall into any of the categories mentioned above or in Section IV.1 of the Guidelines for Implementation of the Policy on Alleged Sexual Abuse of Children of the Diocese. Kansas law does not say clergy must report simply because they are clergy.
3. What Requires A Report? A report must be made when a person has reason to suspect that a child has been injured through physical, mental or emotional abuse, or neglect or sexual abuse.
4. Summary of Legal Definitions:
"Child" refers generally to any person under 18 years of age. “Abuse” minimally includes any or all of the following:
5. To Whom Must The Report Be Made: Reports - oral or written -are made to the Kansas State Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services (SRS). When this department is not open for business, the report is made to the appropriate law enforcement agency. (K.S.A. 38-1522 (c)). The person reporting may speak with the diocesan attorney beforehand.
6. Willful and knowing failure to report is a Class B misdemeanor. (K.S.A. 38-1522 (f) Preventing or interfering with the making of a report required by the law is also a Class B Misdemeanor. (K.S.A. 38-1522 (g)).
7. Under Kansas law (K.S.A. 38-1526), anyone participating without malice in the making of an oral or written report on the abuse of a child, or in any follow-up investigation of the report shall have immunity from any civil liability that might otherwise be incurred or imposed. Such a participant has the same immunity with respect to participating in a judicial proceeding resulting from the report.
8. Kansas law (K.S.A. 60-429) recognizes as privileged what the statute defines as a "penitential communication". A "penitential communication" means "any communication between a penitent and a regular or duly ordained minister of religion which the penitent intends shall be kept secret and confidential and which pertains to advice or assistance in determining or discharging the penitent's moral obligations, or to obtaining God's mercy or forgiveness for past culpable conduct.” (K.S.A.60-429 (a) (5))
"A person, whether or not a party, has a privilege to refuse to disclose, and to prevent a witness from disclosing a communication if he or she claims the privilege and the judge finds that (1) the communication was a penitential communication, (2) the witness is the penitent or the minister, and (3) the claimant is the penitent, or the minister making the claim on behalf of an absent penitent. (K.S.A. 60-429 (b))
9. Clergy should keep in mind that Kansas law does not REQUIRE them to report, (unless) they are functioning in one of the positions listed in K.S.A. 38-1522. See paragraph 1 above. The law clearly protects the clergy/penitent and confessional secrecy.
The statutory definition of penitential communication appears broader in scope, moreover, than a strictly sacramental and confessional communication: it protects a broader class of communications from disclosure. Nevertheless, a priest may well be subpoenaed to testify about cases of child abuse. He can legitimately be asked for all information obtained outside the embrace of a "penitential communication" as defined by the statute.
REPORTED / OBSERVED
I hereby acknowledge that I received on ________________ (date) copies of the Diocesan Policy On Suspected Abuse of Children of the Diocese of Wichita and the Guidelines for Implementation of the Policy on Suspected Abuse of Children, dated October 15, 1992, understand their meaning, and agree to conduct myself in accordance with the Policy and Guidelines.
1. Name: ___________________________________________________
Last First Middle Maiden
2. Address: ______________________________________________
Street City State Zip
Business Phone: ________________
Home Phone: ____________________
Social Security Number:___________________________________________________
3. Has a civil or criminal complaint ever been filed against you alleging physical abuse or sexual abuse by you?
Yes ______ No ______
4. If yes, give a short explanation of the complaint. (Please indicate the date, nature and place of the incident leading to the complaint, city, court, or agency where the complaint was filed, and the disposition of the complaint.)
5. Have you ever terminated your employment or had your employment terminated for reasons relating to allegations of physical abuse or sexual abuse by you?
I hereby certify that the above information to the best of my knowledge is true, accurate and complete. Any misrepresentation or willful omission of facts or attempts to practice any material deception or fraud shall be sufficient cause for disqualification for or termination of my position. Furthermore, I under-stand that this questionnaire and any other materials submitted or obtained in connection with my employment or volunteer position become the property of the Catholic Diocese of Wichita.
I hereby authorize the Catholic Diocese of Wichita to conduct work history, personal references, medical, judicial and law enforcement record inquiries pertinent to matters addressed in this questionnaire. I agree to execute any additional releases necessary to permit the release of such information.
(Please complete this form and return it to your supervisor or pastor
within two weeks. This will become a part of the permanent files of each
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