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Diocese of Fresno

 

Frequently asked questions regarding the disclosure of names of clergy, and Religious Brothers and Sisters for whom allegations of sexual abuse of a minor have been established, admitted, or determined to be credible.

 

 

1. Why is the Diocese of Fresno releasing these lists?

In the interest of further transparency, accountability and responding pastorally to victim survivors the Diocese of Fresno, starting with acknowledging the sins of the past, is committed to healing and reconciliation of those who have been wounded by clergy and religious within the Church.

2. How was this list compiled?

The Diocese of Fresno hired Dr. Kathleen McChesney and her firm, Kinsale Consulting, in 2019 to conduct a thorough and independent review of over 2,800 religious and clergy files dating back to the early 1900’s within the geographical jurisdiction of the current Diocese of Fresno. The names identified to have allegations of sexual abuse of a minor in this file review were then provided to the Diocesan Review Board who during a year and a half period reviewed to the extent possible all reasonable, available, relevant information and reached the opinion that the allegation appeared to be credible, i.e., more likely than not to be true. Bishop Joseph V. Brennan thoroughly reviewed the recommendations of the DRB and authorized the publication of the names listed in this disclosure.

3. What information is provided in the disclosed list?

The disclosed list includes four categories: 1) Priests incardinated for the Diocese of Fresno, 2) Religious Priests who served in the Diocese of Fresno with a known allegation of abuse occurring within the Diocese of Fresno, 3) Extern priests who are incardinated for another diocese with allegations of abuse occurring while serving in the Diocese of Fresno, and 4) Priests who served in the Diocese of Fresno, but who after leaving the Diocese of Fresno were determined to have allegations of sexual abuse of a minor occurring outside of the Diocese of Fresno.

The following information has been provided: name of the cleric, cleric’s current known status, and dates and location of assignment of the cleric while serving in the Diocese of Fresno.

4. Is there anyone on this list still serving in the Diocese of Fresno?

No.

5. How does the Diocese respond to allegations of sexual abuse of a minor by Church personnel? Who verifies that the Diocese is following policies and safeguards for minors?

The Victim Assistance Coordinator receives the report of abuse, complies with mandated reporting laws, if applicable, determines need and offers counseling services to those bringing an allegation, and notifies the Bishop Ordinary and the Diocesan Review Board of the received allegation.

When the diocese receives a report, it obtains as much information as possible from the reporting party to determine when and where the alleged abuse took place, whether the alleged perpetrator is still in ministry in the diocese, and any other details.

The priority in this process is to ensure that no children or vulnerable adults are at risk. If a priest or deacon facing a plausible accusation is in ministry, he is immediately removed, pending an investigation into the reported facts. If the report involves a minor or includes other illegal conduct, the diocese immediately reports it to the appropriate law enforcement agency.

Unless requested otherwise by law enforcement (who may urge a delay while they investigate), an announcement will be read at every parish where the alleged perpetrator has served asking for victims or witnesses to step forward and contact law enforcement. In all cases, the diocese will offer its full cooperation to police and investigators.

The Victim Assistance Coordinator in collaboration with the DRB offers pastoral care and resources to the reporting victim according to their needs.

The Diocesan Review Board, an independent, volunteer group, examines all allegations of sexual abuse of minors and vulnerable adults involving clergy and religious. The Board also reviews Diocesan policies and procedures to ensure compliance of Diocesan leadership.

In addition, the Diocese of Fresno is audited annually by an independent examiner appointed by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to review and verify compliance with the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. During this review, the examiner checks for compliance with background checks, safe environment training of all Diocesan personnel and volunteers who interact with minors, including Catholic schools, and the reporting of any new allegations of abuse.

6. What is the Charter?

The Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People is a comprehensive set of procedures established by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) in June 2002 for addressing allegations of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy. The Charter also includes guidelines for reconciliation, accountability, and prevention of future acts of abuse. A full copy of the Charter is available for download from the USCCB website. All United States bishops have agreed to implement the Charter throughout the United States to address sexual abuse by clergy. In June 2003, the USCCB began auditing Dioceses throughout the United States to ensure implementation of the practices required by the Charter. An Annual Report on the Implementation of the Charter is prepared by the USCCB Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection.

Additional information may be found on the USCCB website (www.usccb.org).

7.  What steps is the Diocese taking to prevent future abuse?

In 2002, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops issued the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. The Charter sets clear procedures for addressing clergy sexual abuse and for safeguarding the young and vulnerable. It includes guidelines for reconciliation, healing, accountability, and prevention of future acts of abuse and serves as the basis for our own Diocesan policies and procedures. Our procedures are continually strengthened and reviewed on an ongoing basis.

The Diocese of Fresno conducts thorough background checks, including fingerprinting, for all diocesan personnel, such as clergy and staff, and those who come into contact with young people. We require every clergy member, anyone training to become a clergy member, as well as any employee or volunteer, to be thoroughly trained in recognizing and preventing child abuse and creating safe environments.

8. Who is on the Diocesan Review Board?

The Diocesan Review Board (“DRB”) is currently comprised of 10 men and women with diverse professional and personal backgrounds and experiences. They include professionals with experience in psychology/counseling, victim assistance, education, law, medicine, and law enforcement, as well as a victim /survivor of clerical sexual abuse. Eight of the ten are laity, including two diocesan personnel and two are clergy. All members of the DRB express a commitment to ensuring the safeguarding of children and vulnerable adults from clergy and religious sexual abuse.

9. What does ‘credibly accused’ mean?

The following criteria have been adopted to identify clergy and religious with credible allegations of sexual abuse of a minor:

      • The allegation involved a member of the clergy who had engaged in ministry within the Diocese of Fresno,

      • The victim was a minor at the time of the abuse,

      • The allegation, after investigation and review, appears to be credible, e., more likely than not to have occurred,

      • The cleric was deceased at the time the allegation was received by the Diocese of Fresno which prevents a complete or thorough investigation to the extent possible, but the allegation, based upon available information, appears more likely than not to be

10.  What should I do if I suspect someone I know has been abused?

Encourage that person to report the incident to law enforcement in the location of the incident and to contact the diocesan Victim Assistance Coordinator at (559) 488-7400.

11.  Do those listed on this disclosure receive financial support from the Diocese?

Priests and laicized priests incardinated for the Diocese of Fresno who have earned a pension are legally entitled to benefits at the designated age according to the Priest Retirement Fund Bylaws. Diocesan priests on permanent prayer and penance status may receive health benefits if not eligible for Medicare. The cost of these benefits is not paid from funds obtained through parish assessments.

12.  When will this ever be over?

We cannot think of this as something that will pass. It will never be over for survivors and those whose lives they touch. The legacy of clergy sexual abuse will be with us always and we must be constantly vigilant to prevent abuse and identify abuse when it happens. We continue to pray for the survivors of sexual abuse. We must always seek to improve how we protect the young and vulnerable and be worthy of the trust placed in us by the People of God.