Audit results: Diocese ‘in compliance’ with
national child protection charter
The Diocese of Dodge City recently completed its annual child protection audit and has been found “in compliance” with the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.
The charter was established by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in 2002. It lists both a set of procedures in addressing allegations of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy, as well as guidelines “for reconciliation, healing, accountability, and prevention of further acts of abuse.”
While pleased with the results of the audit, Sister Janice Grochowsky, CSJ, JCL, Coordinator of the Safe Environment Program, said that she was questioned by the auditor why “nearly 30 volunteers were allowed to minister with children this past year without having attended a Protecting God’s Children awareness training session,” a requirement of the charter.
“Shamefacedly, I could not give him a reason ‘why,’” Sister Janice said. “The best I could do is explain how I gathered the names of the volunteers and employees, and how for five months beginning in January 2009, pastors, DREs, principals and others who oversee safe environment compliance in their parishes were contacted monthly — and the list of those not in compliance published on the monthly diocesan notes — as to who was still lacking attendance at a PGC awareness session or lacking a background check. Regardless of the wonderful efforts made by many, many people throughout the diocese this past year, and despite the hundreds of volunteers and employees who did attend a PGC session and signed a background check consent form, the role of the auditor is to ask that very blunt question.”
When asked by the auditor, “What is being done to compel those to attend who haven’t?” Sister Janice explained, “In July the Review Board wrote letters to the pastors (and sent copies to the DRE, principal, and others responsible for safe environment record-keeping in the parish) stating the volunteer(s) not in compliance should not be allowed to volunteer until they become compliant, i.e., attend a Protecting God’s Children awareness training session or submit a background check consent form.”
After the approval of the charter in 2002, the USCCB established the Office of Child and Youth Protection, headed by top-ranking FBI agent, Kathleen McChesney.
Leading the office today is Theresa Kettlekamp, who is retired from a high ranking position with the Illinois State Police. The contractors who perform the audits are almost entirely former or retired FBI agents.
The Gavin Group, Inc., an independent auditor, was contracted to process the material provided to them by the individual auditors who visit the various sites, and to provide the final results to the diocese.
HOW THE AUDIT WORKS
Here’s how the audit works: The Diocese of Dodge City began transmitting information to the auditor electronically prior to his or her visit, which in this case began Aug. 31. This information includes documentation in regards to how the diocese has complied and is complying with various articles contained in the charter. All but a few dioceses in the country have agreed to take part in the audit.
By the time the auditor arrives, he or she is already somewhat familiar with the conditions in the diocese. Once on site, the auditor will begin verifying and clarifying the information he or she has received. This is done by 1) reviewing the documents that are made available, which are divided by article number on the charter; 2) interviewing the person or persons responsible for that information.
For example, Articles 12 and 13 deal with Safe Environment training and background checks for staff and volunteers who work with anyone under age 18. The auditor would first look at documentation provided by the diocese: Have all volunteers and employees attended a Protecting God’s Children session?
As Sister Janice mentioned, the answer to this question was “no.”
As another example of the audit process, Article 2 discusses the creation and accessibility of complaint forms -- how easy is it for someone to determine how to file a complaint of sexual abuse by a priest, staff member or volunteer.
The auditor would have learned that in the Diocese of Dodge City’s case, general contact information is contained in each issue of the Southwest Kansas Register. Contact information and a report form are contained on the diocesan website, www.dcdiocese.org.
Not all 17 articles in the charter are applicable to individual dioceses, and thus are not discussed during the audit. For example, Article 8 is responsible for establishing the national Office of Child and Youth Protection. Article 9 created a National Review Board.
The individual audit is typically completed within five working days, at which time the information is sent to the Gavin Group, Inc. to process the material.
If found non-compliant in one or more areas, the bishop and appropriate staff members endeavor to correct the problem so that the diocese is held in full compliance the following year.