Statement on the Safety of the Children

The Gavin Group, Inc., a Boston-based independent firm headed by William A. Gavin, a retired FBI official, reported that the Diocese of Brooklyn continues to be in full compliance with the requirements of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. The most recent audit covered the period from July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2010. The results are based on an exhaustive review of policies, documents, and interviews with Diocesan officials, parish and community members.

“The safety of children is my highest priority” says Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio. “We will continue to insist that our parishes, schools, and institutions continue to ensure a Safe Environment. I remain grateful to the many qualified and committed lay people who help to implement our program, and for the cooperation and enthusiasm of our priests, deacons, religious, lay employees, and volunteers.”

“We will continue to be vigilante in the protection of our young people,” Bishop DiMarzio said, “I am convinced that there is no other institution doing more than the Catholic Church to protect children.”

The auditors looked at the adequacy of: policies for responding to complaints; outreach to victims; the work done by the Diocesan Lay Review Board; policies for removing priests who have abused the innocent; and the parish, school, and diocesan compliance with the Safe Environment program. The report affirms that the Diocese continues to respond swiftly to all allegations, reaches out pastorally to victims, reports all allegations to public authorities, conducts investigations with the help of the Lay Review Board, and has implemented a comprehensive Safe Environment Program.

The diocese has clear and well publicized standards of conduct for all persons in positions of trust with regard to sexual abuse. The diocese conducts background evaluations for all diocesan and parish personnel who have regular contact with minors, using appropriate law enforcement resources where permissible. In the 2009-2010 Audit year the Diocese has instructed 4000 adults in 208 (4 hour) VIRTUS sessions (a comprehensive training in policies and best practices that ensure the safety of children). Over the same period of time the diocese has conducted 4170 criminal background searches to prevent predators from gaining access to children as volunteers or employees. In addition, the diocese has conducted 289 Child Lures Presentations (age appropriate and yet comprehensive training to increase awareness that adults sometimes place children in perilous circumstances). In the last year, 64,396 children participated in these sessions.

A communications policy remains in effect which reflects the bishop’s pledge to be open and transparent on issues regarding the sexual abuse of children. The diocese does assist and support all parish communities directly affected by ministerial misconduct involving minors. The diocese employs adequate screening and evaluative techniques in deciding the fitness of candidates for ordination. There is no priest or deacon serving in the diocese who has had a credible allegation of sexual abuse made against him. The diocese has not allowed the transfer of any priest or deacon who has had a credible allegation of sexual abuse made against him to another diocese for residence since the passing of the USCCB Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.

Furthermore, Bishop DiMarzio has a standing offer to meet with any victim who has reported an allegation of abuse. The bishop or his delegates inform communities in which the sexual abuse occurred and provide support services for those in need. The diocese has a mechanism in place to respond promptly to any allegation where there is reason to believe that sexual abuse of a minor occurred. The diocese has a victim assistance coordinator, Sr. Ellen Patricia Finn, OP, who is a Licensed Certified Social Worker with extensive experience dealing with victims of sexual abuse.