Are lay people involved in reviewing accusations? What is the Diocesan Review Board?

When an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor is received, lay people are involved in each step of the process, including reporting the allegation to law enforcement, conducting the diocesan investigation and reaching out with assistance to the individual making the allegation.

In addition, based on the national charter approved in 2002, all dioceses are to have a review board that functions as a confidential consultative body to the Bishop. This board assesses allegations of sexual abuse of minors by clergy and review diocesan policies and procedures for dealing with sexual abuse of minors. 

When a diocesan investigation is complete, all evidence is considered by the Diocesan Review Board, which is made up of mostly lay men and women with professional expertise in fields such as medicine, psychology, counseling, canon and civil law, etc. The Review Board determines whether the allegation is credible and advises the Bishop regarding the accused cleric’s suitability for ministry. No cleric with a credible allegation of sexual abuse against a minor will return to ministry.

The determination of the Review Board is independent of that of law enforcement. The Review Board may find an allegation to be credible even if law enforcement determines that the evidence is not sufficient for a criminal prosecution. 

Review Board Members as of October 2018

  • Art Behrmann, M.D., Private Practicioner of Psychiatry
  • Robert Chirles, M.S., Retired Director of the Loudoun County Department of Family Services
  • Linda A. Cullen, M.S.W., A.C.S.W., Retired Program Director of Children's Services, Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Arlington; Psychological Assessor, Diocese of Arlington Tribunal
  • Sr. Susan Louise Eder, O.S.F.S., Principal, Holy Cross Academy, Fredericksburg
  • Robert C. Odle, Jr., Esq., Retired Attorney at Law, Weil, Gotshal and Manges, L.L.P.
  • Ronald S. Riggins, RP Financial, President/Managing Director
  • Very Rev. Lee R. Roos, V.F., Promoter of Justice; Pastor, All Saints Church, Manassas
  • Rev. Robert C. Cilinski, Episcopal Vicar for Charitable Works; Pastor, Church of the Nativity, Burke