Diocesan Review Board Plays Key Role In Handling Abuse Allegations
The Diocese of Evansville’s Review Board plays a key role in handling allegations of sexual abuse of minors by clergy. And it does so with a pastoral focus.
Bishop Joseph M Siegel consulted the Diocesan Review Board in the preparations of the list of clergy with credible allegations of sexual abuse of a minor or a person who habitually has only the imperfect use of reason, which appears in this issue of The Message.
Then-Bishop Gerald A. Gettelfinger established the Review Board in 2002, in compliance with the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People (Charter) and the Essential Norms for Diocesan/Eparchial Policies Dealing with Allegations of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Priests or Deacons (Essential Norms). The Catholic bishops of the United States adopted the Charter in 2002, and the Apostolic See approved the Essential Norms in 2002.
Diocesan policies and procedures state that the Review Board is composed of at least five but no more than seven members appointed by the bishop. As noted in the policies and procedures, “at least a majority of the members shall be lay Catholics who are not employees of the diocese, and at least one (1) member shall be a priest of the Diocese.” Members possess experience and training that enable them to evaluate the credibility of abuse claims and recommend treatment for victims of abuse.
As noted above, the Diocesan Review Board serves the bishop as a consultative and advisory body. The bishop is responsible for the final determinations regarding the suitability for ministry of clerics who are the subjects of allegations of sexual abuse of a minor and who have been placed on administrative leave by reason of such allegations.
In reviewing the status of past claims of abuse and evaluating new claims, the review board works closely with the diocese’s victim’s assistance coordinator, who receives initial claims of abuse and reports them directly to the Indiana Department of Child Protective Services/prosecutor/police.