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January 26, 2006


Cardinal Justin Rigali, Archbishop of Philadelphia,announces the hiring of Ms. Mary Achilles as part of his continuing efforts to strengthen services to victims of sexual abuse by clergy. For the past ten years Ms. Achilles served as the first-ever Victim Advocate for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. She was selected by former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge for that position and charged with elevating the voices of crime victims in state government.

Upon his hiring of Ms. Achilles as the Victims' Advocate for the Archdiocese, Cardinal Rigali said, "I am pleased to hire Ms. Achilles to fill this important role. I am sure she will assist the Archdiocese in enhancing our existing services and finding new ways to reach out to the victims of clergy sexual abuse. She comes to this position with a great deal of experience at the highest levels of state and local government. Throughout her career she has demonstrated a depth of compassion for those who have been harmed. I am confident that the Archdiocese will continue to grow in its knowledge of how to do what is best for adult survivors of clergy sexual abuse."

In her new role, Ms. Achilles will review the existing practices of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia to help ensure an effective and sensitive response to the victims of clergy sexual abuse. She will build bridges to secular community programs which provide services to sexual assault victims. Ms. Achilles said, "We need to promote an environment that encourages victims to come forward. We also need to strengthen our response to provide comprehensive, quality services that address the needs of victims."

Prior to serving as Pennsylvania's first Victim Advocate, Ms. Achilles was Director of Victim Services for the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections from 1993 to 1995. She also served in the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office 1979 to 1993 supervising services provided to victims, including the witness security program. Ms. Achilles has a Masters Degree in Public Administration from Temple University and a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice from West Chester University.

Ms. Achilles believes her experience will respond to the needs of the Archdiocese at this time. "Victims have always been my primary teachers. They taught me what I need to know to best assist them. They will continue to be my teachers in this new appointment. I was impressed that the Archdiocese reached out to me. It is clear that Cardinal Rigali is committed to doing what is best for victims. It is a privilege to assist him in that effort."

Since 2003, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia has had Victims Assistance Coordinators and has asked anyone who wishes to report sexual abuse by clergy to contact that office. Ms. Achilles said, "I recognize that the Archdiocese has provided quality services for victims. We need to build upon those services and be sure that we are doing everything possible to create a safe, caring support system."

There is a new toll free phone number for the Victims Assistance Coordinators.
It is 1-888-800-8780.

Editor's Note: A digital photo of Ms. Achilles is available. Please e-mail your request to

Donna Farrell
Director of Communications

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