Child Protection Policies
The Dominican Province of St. Joseph takes very seriously our responsibility to protect all persons to whom we minister, especially children and vulnerable adults. Since 1990, the Province has had specific policies to protect children and to respond to complaints of child sexual abuse. In 2006, the Province established the Affirming and Protecting Children and Young People Program to provide a more comprehensive response in compliance with the USCCB Charter and the Standards of the Conference of Major Superiors of Men. In 2022, the APCYP Program was succeeded by the Safeguarding Program, which extends the Province’s commitment to respond to concerns about sexual abuse of vulnerable adults as well as minors. The following policies have been in effect since 2006:
Screening and Training
All candidates for admission into the province undergo a thorough screening process and extensive training including:
- A criminal background check in every state and county in which the candidate has resided during the past ten years and a national sex offender registry check;
- A psychological evaluation including a psycho-sexual history conducted by a licensed psychologist;
- A social media usage check (added in 2016);
- A minimum of five written references and five in-person interviews;
- Six years of formation which includes training in the proper integration of human sexuality, development of the virtue of chastity, and annual evaluations;
- An initial training program in safeguarding at the beginning of formation and continuing education training each year.
Reporting and Support
- All who have suffered sexual abuse as a child are encouraged to report such abuse to their local law enforcement agencies.
- Anyone who is in need of assistance or who has concerns that they wish to bring to the attention of the Province may contact our Victim Assistance Coordinator, Ms. Theresa Rodrigues, LCSW-R (518-573-8254; firstname.lastname@example.org).
Responding to Complaints
- Without exception, all complaints received are reported to the appropriate law enforcement agency and the local diocese regardless of their apparent credibility, including anonymous reports and complaints against friars who are deceased.
- The Province’s Victim Assistance Coordinator, a licensed clinical social worker with over fifteen years of experience working with victims of child sexual abuse, offers to meet in person with the complainant wherever they currently live.
- Immediately upon receiving the complaint, before any evaluation is made, the Province offers financial assistance for counseling using a counselor of the complainant’s choice; additional pastoral outreach is offered as appropriate.
- All complaints are investigated as thoroughly as possible. Independent private investigators, usually retired law enforcement agents, are retained to investigate any allegation against a friar who is still living.
- Anyone making a complaint may choose to meet with the Prior Provincial once his or her complaint has been investigated.
- No friar with a credible allegation of sexual abuse of a minor or vulnerable adult is ever allowed in public ministry under any circumstances.
- Any friar who is accused is restricted from any ecclesiastical or public ministry while the complaint is investigated.
- Any candidate or student friar who is credibly accused or who exhibits any inappropriate tendencies toward children is dismissed from the Province.
Every aspect of our safeguarding efforts, including each complaint received, is reviewed by the Province’s Review Board.
- The review board consists of volunteer men and women with a wide variety of training and backgrounds. Typically, the members include attorneys, retired law enforcement agents, psychologists and social workers who worked with victims, victims of child sexual abuse, and a parishioner who is a parent.
- The review board has access to all documents related to every complaint received and ensures that the Province complies with civil law, the law of the Church, the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, the standards of the Conference of Major Superiors of Men, and our Provincial policies.
Our safeguarding efforts are audited by Praesidium, an outside agency selected by the Conference of Major Superiors of Men.
- The accreditation process includes onsite inspections, interviews of Provincial leadership and members, review of records for all our screening and safeguarding training, and a review of each complaint received since the last accreditation.
- On June 4, 2018, the Province was reaccredited meeting all 25 standards of accreditation with no corrections or notations.
Prayer and Vigilance
It is important to remain vigilant in efforts to protect children and vulnerable adults, not only during the times when there is great media attention. Since 2006, all the members of the Province have offered special prayers every week for the victims of sexual abuse by priests and religious and for the protection of children. While this is a small action in comparison with the seriousness of sexual abuse, it is only by the power of God’s grace that healing and true transformation can take place.
- The Holy Father’s Letter on the Sex Abuse Crisis
- Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People
- Child Protection Policies for the Dioceses Where We Serve