July 6, 2012
ADDITIONAL RESOLUTIONS OF CASES OF
PRIESTS ON ADMINISTRATIVE LEAVE
Archbishop Chaput makes final decisions in six more cases of priests placed on administrative leave following the February 2011 Grand Jury Report
The Archdiocese of Philadelphia announced today that Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., has made final decisions in six additional cases of the priests who were placed on administrative leave following the February 2011 Grand Jury Report. Through a rigorous investigative process involving over 20 experts in child abuse four of the priests have been found suitable for ministry and two have been found not suitable for ministry.
In the cases of those found unsuitable for ministry none were due to a substantiated allegation of sexual abuse of a minor and five were due to a substantiated violation of the Standards of Ministerial Behavior and Boundaries. The priests found unsuitable for ministry will have no public ministry in the Archdiocese. They do have the right to appeal the decision to the Holy See. For those found to have a substantiated allegation of sexual abuse of a minor, if they do not appeal, or if their appeal is unsuccessful, they could be laicized (removed from the clerical state) or live a life of prayer and penance.
Archbishop Chaput said, "In making these decisions I relied on the counsel of numerous experts in two separate bodies-the Multi-Disciplinary Team and the Archdiocesan Review Board. They come from various professional disciplines and have dedicated their lives to child protection, to the investigation of sexual offenders and to support for victims of sexual violence. I'm grateful for their tireless efforts. The experience of these doctors, police officers, former prosecutors, victims' advocates and others in dealing with the broad societal problem of sexual abuse was crucial to our work."
Prior to conducting an investigation, each case was submitted to the appropriate local district attorney's office. After receiving clearance, that investigation was conducted by the Multi-Disciplinary Team (MDT) led by veteran child abuse prosecutor Gina Maisto Smith. The results of the investigations were provided to the Archdiocesan Review Board (ARB), which provided a recommendation to the Archbishop, who made the final decision.
To date, the multidisciplinary team has located, gathered and reviewed more than 400,000 pages of relevant documents, identified, located and interviewed 227 witnesses, across the United States and in several foreign countries, and conducted countless site visits to parishes and schools where incidents were alleged to have occurred. Many cases involved a search for additional evidence including yearbooks, parish records, photographs and public documents. Some cases dated as far back in time as 40 years, which posed significant investigative challenges.
At a news conference on May 4, 2012, Archbishop Chaput announced initial resolutions in eight of the cases of priests placed on administrative leave following the February 2011 Grand Jury Report. At that time, three priests were found suitable for ministry and five priests were found unsuitable for ministry. In one additional case, the priest on administrative leave died before a full investigation could be conducted. Therefore, it was not possible to reach a conclusion. All of those cases followed the same process of clearance by the district attorney, investigation by the MDT, review by the ARB and a final decision by the Archbishop. More information regarding that announcement, including video of the Archbishop's remarks from the news conference, is available at www.archphila.org.
With the decisions announced today, the Archdiocese will continue the initiative entitled Honesty, Healing and Hope in Christ: Confronting Sexual Violence in Our Archdiocese, which was introduced in May 2012. This program takes place at the parish level and consists of four phases over six months. Its purpose is to address the wide variety of reactions, thoughts and feelings experienced at the time of the announcements and in the days and weeks moving forward. It identifies three primary stakeholders: the victims of the allegation or violation of The Standards of Ministerial Behaviors and Boundaries, the parishioners, who include school and Parish Religious Education Program (PREP) families, and the priests on administrative leave. Through the implementation of this initiative, the Archdiocese continues a journey of honesty, healing and hope toward the restoration of trust.
Not all of the remaining administrative leave cases are being announced today for a variety of reasons. The Archdiocese referred all of its cases to the local district attorney. A handful of cases have not yet been cleared by law enforcement so the internal Archdiocesan investigation led by the Multi-Disciplinary Team (MDT) has not begun. A few cases were just recently released by law enforcement and are currently under investigation by the MDT. In other cases, the Archdiocese has received clearance, the internal investigation is complete, and the matter is awaiting examination by the Archdiocesan Review Board or a final decision by Archbishop Chaput.
Due to the ongoing process there is no indication as to when the resolutions of the remaining cases will be made, however the Archdiocese hopes to announce them as soon as possible.
Kenneth A. Gavin
Associate Director of Communications