Statement Addressing the John Jay Report

John Jay The Causes and Context of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests in the United States, 1950-2010 finds sexual abuse of minors to be a human problem that all of society must always guard against. Safe environments, where appropriate boundaries between and adults and children are maintained, is seen as key to prevention.

Brooklyn, NY (May 18, 2011) After almost eight years of exhaustive research the John Jay study group has concluded its work into the examination of the clergy sex abuse scandal. The report concluded that sexual abuse of minors was primarily confined to a defined historical period that stretched from the “1960s and 1970s with sharp decline in the mid-1980s.” The study indicated that “at the time of the peak and subsequent decline in sexual abuse incidents by Catholic priests, there was a substantial increase in knowledge and understanding in American society about victimization and the harm of child sexual abuse.”

Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio discussed the release of the report with priests of the Diocese of Brooklyn at a meeting on May 17th saying “the release of the John Jay Report is part of our continued efforts to learn from a painful moment in the life of the Church in an open and transparent manner. A key take away from the report is our collective need to remain vigilant and ensure a safe environment for the children in our care.”

Since 2002 the Diocese of Brooklyn has put into place VIRTUS a nationally recognized program that has provided ongoing training in child safety for over 37,000 clergy, professional staff and volunteers. At the same time, each and every Church employee as well as volunteer that has contact with children must undergo a criminal background check.

Building upon efforts to create a safe environment for children, the Diocese began mandating “Child Lures” a program for all children that are ministered to in Church sponsored programs or activities in Brooklyn and Queens in December 2004. Created by Kenneth Wooden, this program teaches children strategies to ensure their safety and to instill in them the confidence to report situations that are uncomfortable. Each year 65,000 children and young people undergo training.

In April 2002 then Bishop Thomas V. Daily of Brooklyn entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with both the Kings County District Attorney and the Queens County District Attorney. Key to this understanding is that any and all allegations of abuse of a minor are referred to the respective DA’s Office for investigation without being pre-screened by Church officials.

It is also the policy of the Diocese to refer each and every allegation of abuse to the Diocesan Review Board for investigation and consideration. Article 2 of the Dallas Charter (as in original) states that dioceses will have a review board, the majority of whose members will be lay persons not in the employ of the diocese, who will assist the Bishop in assessing, both retrospectively and prospectively, allegations of abuse, and who will regularly review diocesan policies and procedures for dealing with sexual abuse of minors. The Review Board for the Diocese of Brooklyn consists of eight voting members. Bernard G. Helldorfer, Esq., Professor of Legal Studies at St. John’s University, is the Chair. To date, the Review Board has considered and made recommendations to me in more than 39 cases referred to it by either Bishop Daily or myself. In each of them, the Review Board has deliberated with professionalism, making extraordinary effort to respect the rights and positions of both the accused and the alleged victims. Each and every recommendation of the review Board has been accepted.

To ensure that allegations were immediately referred to the appropriate DA, Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio established in August of 2004 a Diocesan Toll-Free Number (1-888-634-4499) to assist those who wish to report allegations of sexual abuse of minors by a priest or deacon. The establishment of this number is born out of our experience that civil authorities, not the Church, are best equipped to investigate these matters.

Please consult From Shadow to Light found on the diocesan website under “they are our future, we are their protectors”.