Update: Charter for Protection of
Children and Young People
In November, 2002, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops approved the Charter for the Protection of God’s Children and Young People in response to the growing issue of sexual abuse of children by the clergy. The following year, the Catholic Diocese of Dodge City established the Policy for Protection of Children and Young People on June 15, 2003. The goals of both the Charter and the Policy for Protection of Children and Young People are to increase awareness of the potential for sexual abuse within the community at large, to establish a safe environment for our children within our parish communities, and to develop a mechanism for addressing allegations of abuse in the future.
In order to carry out the directives of both the Charter and the Policy for Protection of Children and Young People, Bishop Ronald M. Gilmore established the Diocesan Review Board and appointed a lay Assistance Minister to work with the victims of abuse.
Since 2003, the Diocese of Dodge City has received fifteen allegations of abuse against ten priests. Eight allegations were against one priest. None of the allegations have involved priests serving within the Diocese of Dodge City at the time the allegations were made, and all of the claims involve allegations of conduct occurring more than two decades ago. There are no allegations of abuse against any priest currently serving within the Diocese. In all cases, the priests involved are either deceased or are no longer engaged in active ministry. Any allegations involving priests who have served in another diocese have been communicated to that diocese as well. Four claims involve allegations of abuse occurring outside the Diocese of Dodge City, at a time when the priest involved was incardinated here but working in another diocese.
Consistent with the Charter and the Policy for the Protection of Children and Young People, the Diocesan Review Board conducted an investigation of all allegations of abuse and made an initial determination of credibility based upon the available evidence. As a result of the level of credibility of the allegations against three priests, Fr. John Haberthier, Fr. Donald Straub, and Fr. Orestes Huerta, announcements were made in all parishes where they had previously served, informing the parishioners of those parishes that allegations had been made, identifying the alleged perpetrator, and asking for any victims or persons with information regarding abuse to come forward.
Fr. Straub, a priest of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, served temporarily in the diocese. Allegations were made against him in St. Louis. The Diocese of Dodge City has never received any complaints regarding Fr. Straub during his service in the diocese, after his departure, or following the announcements.
The Diocese of Dodge City made announcements in the parishes in which Father Orestes Huerta served after the diocese became aware of concerns regarding Fr. Huerta that arose in the Diocese of Boac following his return to the Philippines and that were understood to have been regarded with some degree of credibility. The Diocese of Dodge City has never received any complaints regarding Fr. Huerta during his service in the diocese, after his departure, or following the announcements.
Settlements have been entered into on behalf of the Diocese with nine individuals. The total of all settlement dollars paid is $825,000.00. Of this amount, the Diocese has paid $190,000.00, and its insurer, Catholic Mutual Company, has paid $635,000.00. In addition to monetary settlements, three individuals have been provided with counseling and/or pastoral services at the expense of the Diocese and/or its insurer. In most but not all cases, the victims have been represented by legal counsel. While the Diocese does not request confidentiality as a condition of any settlement, in consideration of the privacy of the individuals involved, the Diocese will not make available the names of the alleged victims or perpetrators or the amount of the individual settlements. The individuals involved are always free to do so should they so choose.