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Archives Audit finds diocese compliant with Charter

Oct. 31, 2018

An independent audit has once again found the Diocese of Ogdensburg to be in compliance with the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.

The Charter, implemented in 2002, is a comprehensive set of procedures established by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) for addressing allegations of sexual abuse of minors. The Charter outlines policies and procedures to create a safe environment for children and young people, aid victims in finding healing and reconciliation and handling allegations of abuse. The Charter calls for zero tolerance, removal from ministry for guilty clergy, full cooperation with law enforcement, comprehensive child safety education, safe environment training and background checks for all who work with children and youth in the Church, and on-going audits to assure compliance with our diocesan safe environment policies.

The audit was conducted by StoneBridge Business Partners through the firm’s contract with the USCCB.
In its audit summary, StoneBridge noted the diocese “has been found compliant with all audited Articles within the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People for the 2017/2018 audit period.”

The diocese has been found compliant in every similar audit since the Charter’s inception. Audits are conducted on-site every three years. StoneBridge performs a remote audit in other years reviewing the same data collection procedures and related reports.

“The Diocese of Ogdensburg has worked diligently to ensure that we have policies and procedures that provide a safe environment for our children and youth,” said Bishop Terry R. LaValley. “These efforts are proving effective. We pray that the fact that no credible allegations of abuse occurring in the last 20 years is a sign that we are on the right course. I am grateful to Mr. John Morrison who coordinates our diocesan Safe Environment efforts and our pastors and their staffs, who work diligently in implementing our policies in our local parishes and schools.”

The audit findings included several suggestions for further improvement. The recommendations will be thoroughly explored to improve the diocese’s implementation of the Charter and provide the safest possible environment for our children and young people.

Over the last two decades, the Diocese of Ogdensburg and the Catholic Church throughout the United States has made documented progress in dealing with the crime of sexual abuse of minors, especially since the implementation of the Charter.

The diocese has implemented comprehensive policies and programs for child protection and safety in all our parishes, schools and programs . Morrison, director of Safe Environment, conducts periodic inspections of our parishes and schools to ensure they understand these policies and are adhering to them.

The diocese has also implemented comprehensive policies to address how allegations of misconduct are handled. The diocese reports all allegations of sexual abuse of minors to local law enforcement, and support and assistance are offered to victims. Every complaint received by the diocese is investigated and submitted to the Review Board, which assesses the credibility of the complaint and advises the bishop regarding further action to be taken.

The Review Board members have the integrity, life experience and good judgment that enable them to assess claims of clergy sexual abuse. The Review Board is made up of counselors with expertise in child sex abuse cases, retired judges, retired law enforcement officers, teachers, medical professionals, parents and a pastor.

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