When have the Diocese's child protection policies been updated?

In 2002, the U.S. Bishops issued the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People (www.usccb.org/ocyp/charter.htm) as a comprehensive set of procedures for addressing allegations of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy. Based upon this Charter, the Diocese of Arlington updated its child protection policy in 2003. A further update of this policy, to incorporate the latest advancements in best practices and to reflect experience under the prior policy, is currently underway. In addition, the Diocese has published Codes of Conduct for clergy and lay people who work with children. These were initially published in 2004 and were updated in 2012.


Was 2002 the first time the Diocese established policies to prevent child sexual abuse?


In 1991, the Diocese instituted its Policy on the Prevention of Sexual Misconduct and/or Child Abuse in an effort to prevent possible sexual misconduct and/or child abuse by personnel of the Diocese. This policy was updated in 1995 and 2000, and the current policy was adopted in 2003. These policies have always applied to all diocesan staff, clergy and volunteers who have substantial contact with minors.


Who must be fingerprinted as part of their background check?

All clergy and employees of diocesan offices, parishes, parish and diocesan schools, ministries and charities - regardless of their contact with children - must undergo a background check that includes fingerprinting. Additionally, any volunteer with substantial contact with children must undergo a background check.


In addition to the policies, how does the Diocese prevent child sexual abuse?

Through the diocesan Office for the Protection of Children and Young People, the Diocese conducts Safe Environment training seminars on methods of preventing, recognizing and reporting child abuse and sexual misconduct. All clerics, employees and volunteers who have substantial contact with minors of the Diocese, parishes, schools, missions or other institutions must attend these seminars within 45 days of submitting their completed background check.

Additional information about adult Safe Environment training in the Diocese of Arlington can be found on our VIRTUS: Protecting God's Children for Adults Training webpage.


Is a similar policy and practice in place for employees and volunteers who work with children?

If the alleged perpetrator is an employee of the Diocese, the employee shall be placed on administrative leave. Volunteers will be relieved of their volunteer positions. If an allegation of child abuse or illegal sexual misconduct by an employee is found to be credible, he or she shall be immediately terminated from employment and may also face criminal charges.


Who checks to ensure the Diocese is following its procedures?

Our diocese is audited annually by Stonebridge Business Partners of Rochester, N.Y., to ensure we are compliant with the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. This audit looks at our practices and procedures for background checks, Safe Environment training and reporting. We have been found compliant each year since 2004.