Sexual Abuse & Misconduct Policy for the Catholic Apostolic Church of Antioch
It is the policy of the Catholic Apostolic Church of Antioch that all ministers of the Church including but not limited to bishops, priests, deacons, church officials, church officers, employees, and volunteers and or any other person or persons who are participating in any Church activity or function which is sponsored by or may reflect upon the Catholic Apostolic Church of Antioch are to maintain the highest integrity of the ministerial, employment, and professional relationship at all times.
Sexual Abuse and misconduct is contrary to Christian principals, scripture and violates the very essence of the Church’s moral teaching.
This policy is intended to establish a Church procedure aimed at preventing and addressing Sexual Abuse misconduct as defined below and the resulting harm to others and to provide guidance to Church Personnel on how to respond to allegations of Sexual Abuse and misconduct.
II. KNOWLEDGE OF POLICY:
This policy is to be distributed to all Church Personnel, as defined herein, and to the following:
1) all those who seek ordination before being admitted to candidacy;
2) all those who seek to work either through paid employment or volunteer in any Church activity before being allowed to volunteer.
All personnel shall thoroughly read and sign an acknowledgment of receipt, understanding and acceptance of the policy. A copy of the required receipt accompanies this policy. The signed receipt shall be promptly forwarded by their immediate supervisor to the Local Bishop and then to Church Central where it shall be maintained on file. In the event there is no local bishop, any information that would normally be sent to the local bishop shall be sent to Church Central and any action that would normally be responsibility of the local bishop shall be the responsibility of Church Central. This requirement applies to all sections of this Sexual Abuse and Misconduct Policy.
NO CHURCH PERSONNEL SHALL BE PERMITTED TO ACT IN ANY CAPACITY ON BEHALF OF THE CHURCH PRIOR TO READING AND SIGNING THE ACKNOWLEDGEMENT FORM AND PRESENTING IT TO THEIR SUPERVISOR
This policy is intended to address violations of criminal, civil and the moral teachings of the Church as pertaining to Sexual Abuse and misconduct. While this policy is not State specific, it seeks to be reflective of the presently mandated criminal reporting requirements throughout the United States. Each Local Bishop MUST familiarize him/herself with the applicable reporting requirements for Sexual Abuse of a minor, Vulnerable Adults or adults for his/her jurisdiction and MUST comply strictly with those requirements. Additionally, this policy provides a procedure to Church Central and the Bishops and hierarchy of the Catholic Apostolic Church of Antioch when allegations of Sexual Misconduct are made which do not rise to the level of criminal conduct but which are contrary to the Gospel and the moral teachings of the Church.
a. Sexual Abuse-Minors:
i. A minor is defined as any person under the age of 18.
ii. Sexual Abuse of a Minor shall be construed to include any kind of sexual contact or sexual act committed by Church Personnel against a minor, including but not limited to any physical sexual contact, nonphysical sexual interaction, exploitation, or molestation, perpetrated with intent to arouse either party. This policy encompasses allegations of Sexual Abuse of any individual who is currently a minor child as well as allegations of past Sexual Abuse of any individual who was a minor child at the time of the abuse, even if said individual is an adult at the time that the allegation is made.
b. Sexual Abuse-Vulnerable Adults:
i. A Vulnerable Adult is defined as a person 18 years or older who is a resident or inpatient of a facility or receives services from a licensed facility or a licensed home care provider, or who, regardless of whether he or she receives services or resides in a facility, possesses a physical or cognitive disability that impairs the individual’s ability to provide for his or her own care without assistance, including the provision of food, shelter, clothing, health care, or supervision, and because of the dysfunction or infirmity and the need for care or services, the individual has an impaired ability to protect himself or herself from maltreatment.
ii. Sexual Abuse of Vulnerable Adults shall be construed to include any kind of sexual contact with a victim who is a mentally incapacitated individual or a physically helpless individual as Section IV(b)(i), when the individual performing the sexual act knows or reasonably should know that the victim is a Vulnerable Adult. Sexual Abuse of a Vulnerable Adult includes but is not limited to any physical sexual contact, nonphysical sexual interaction, exploitation, or molestation, perpetrated with intent to arouse either party.
c. Church is defined as the Catholic Apostolic Church of Antioch.
d. Sexual Misconduct is defined as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, sexually motivated physical contact, or other verbal or physical conduct or communication of a sexual nature which is intended to harass another individual who is not a minor or Vulnerable Adult as defined herein. Sexual Misconduct includes but is not limited to the following: unwelcome sexual advances or touching, unwelcome sexual flirtations, advances, propositions or derogatory, vulgar, or graphic written or oral statements regarding one’s sexuality, gender or sexual experience, unnecessary touching, patting, pinching or attention to an individual’s body, physical assault, unwanted sexual compliments, innuendoes, suggestions or jokes, the display of sexually suggestive pictures or objects, requests for sexual favors as a condition of employment or for a promotion or compensation. Sexual Misconduct includes any act which is defined by the local, state or federal civil authority as a criminal act except where the Civil Authority’s determination of a Criminal Act is contrary to the opinion of Church Central as a basic Civil and Privacy Right of consenting adults.
e. Church Central shall mean the present governing body of the Catholic Apostolic Church of Antioch.
f. Church Personnel includes the following categories:
i. All clerics (including all bishops, priests, permanent deacons and transitional deacons).
ii. All those non-ordained persons to whom a participation in the exercise of the pastoral care of a parish is entrusted.
iii. All personnel schools, including daycare of the Church including administration, faculty and support staff.
iv. All youth ministers in the parishes, schools and institutions of the Church.
v. All paid personnel in the offices Church Central or any parishes, schools or any institutions of the Catholic Apostolic Church of Antioch.
vi. All volunteers in the parishes, offices, institutions and programs of the Church who have as part of their volunteer activity come into regular contact with parishioners and the general public.
vii. Such other personnel as designated by the local bishop or Church Central.
V. REPORTING OF SEXUAL ABUSE OF MINOR OR VULNERABLE ADULT:
a. All Church Personnel are to adhere to federal and state laws regarding reporting of abuse of minors or disabled adults and to cooperate fully with civil investigations.
b. Allegations of Sexual Abuse-Minor or Vulnerable Adult: In any situation where an allegation of child Sexual Abuse is raised, Church Personnel are expected to comply with mandatory reporting requirements in accordance with state and federal laws. Any allegation of Sexual Abuse of a Minor or Vulnerable Adult must be reported to the police or to the appropriate civil authorities (such as the Department of Social Services or Adult Protective Services) immediately but under no circumstances no later than 24 hours of receipt of the allegation. The following procedure shall be followed in reporting an allegation of Sexual Abuse of a minor or Vulnerable Adult:
i. Any Church Personnel who has reasonable cause to believe that Sexual Abuse of a Minor or Vulnerable Adult has occurred shall report, or cause a report of that abuse to be made as required by law.
ii. The Church Personnel shall also contact his or her immediate supervisor. Said supervisor, if not already the Local Bishop, shall immediately inform the Local Bishop by whatever means expedites notification of the allegations to the Local Bishop.
iii. If the allegations of Sexual Abuse or Misconduct are made against the Church Personnel’s Local Bishop, then the Church Personnel shall contact Church Central.
iv. The Church Personnel making the report shall draft a detailed information summary containing all information known of the allegation including but not limited to the source of the allegation, circumstances of the allegation, any contact information of any party or parties involved or alleged to have been involved and the actions taken by the Church Personnel in reporting the allegation to the proper civil authority including to whom the allegation was reported, the date, time and contact information. A copy of that information summary shall be sent immediately and confidentially to the Local Bishop who shall forward it to Church Central or if accusations are against the Local Bishop then to Church Central directly (See Internal Investigation Procedures.)
v. The Bishop or if applicable Church Central shall immediately confirm with the proper civil authority that a report of alleged abuse has been made and if not, shall do so him/ herself based upon the information provided by the Church Personnel.
VI. SEXUAL ABUSE OF A MINOR OR VULNERABLE ADULT: ACTION TO BE TAKEN IF ALLEGATION INVOLVES CLERGY OR THOSE STUDYING IN SEMINARY
a. Upon receipt of an allegation of Sexual Abuse involving a Minor or Vulnerable Adult, the accused shall be preliminarily notified verbally by the Local Bishop or if applicable Church Central of the accusations and immediate action shall be taken to suspend the accused individual from his or her ecclesiastical duties and to prohibit public participation in the Eucharist and all other public ministries pending the outcome of civil and internal investigations. This interim suspension is a temporary measure enacted to protect the safety of minor children or Vulnerable Adult and shall not be treated as a determination of the guilt or innocence of the alleged offender. The Church shall handle such reports in good faith, exercising sensitivity and caution. While strict confidentiality cannot be guaranteed, appropriate good faith precautions shall be taken to protect the identity of the victim, the reputation of the accused, and the confidentiality of the investigation.
b. After the appropriate civil authorities have been contacted, the Church will then undertake a concurrent internal investigation to determine the veracity of the allegation(s) and to decide what if any corrective action should be taken in response to the act of Sexual Misconduct (see Internal Investigation Procedures.)
c. When even a single act of Sexual Abuse of a Minor or Vulnerable Adult by a cleric is admitted or is established after an appropriate civil or internal process, the offending cleric shall be removed permanently from all ecclesiastical ministries.
VII. SEXUAL ABUSE OF A MINOR OR VULNERABLE ADULT: ACTION TO BE TAKEN IF ALLEGATION INVOLVES LAY EMPLOYEES OR VOLUNTEER
a. Upon receipt of an allegation of Sexual Abuse involving a Minor or Vulnerable Adult, the accused shall be preliminarily notified verbally of the accusations and immediate action shall be taken to suspend the accused individual from his or her employment or volunteer activities with the Church pending the outcome of either the civil or internal investigation.
b. This interim suspension is a temporary measure enacted to protect the safety of a Minor or Vulnerable Adult and shall not be treated as a determination of the guilt or innocence of the alleged offender. The Church shall handle such reports in good faith, exercising sensitivity and caution. While strict confidentiality cannot be guaranteed, appropriate good faith precautions shall be taken to protect the identity of the victim, the reputation of the accused, and the confidentiality of the investigation.
c. After the appropriate civil authorities have been contacted, the Church will then undertake a concurrent internal investigation to determine the veracity of the allegation(s) and to decide what if any corrective action should be taken in response to the act of Sexual Misconduct (See Internal Investigation Procedures).
VIII. SEXUAL MISCONDUCT INVOLVING COMPETENT ADULTS
This section shall apply to all other cases of Sexual Misconduct involving adults—i.e., adults not classified as “vulnerable” in the above definition. Any person who has any information pertaining to, or knowledge of, Sexual Misconduct involving Church Personnel is strongly encouraged to report such matters immediately. The Church shall handle such reports in good faith, exercising sensitivity and caution. While strict confidentiality cannot be guaranteed, appropriate good faith precautions shall be taken to protect the identity of the victim, the reputation of the accused, and the confidentiality of the investigation.
a. Allegations from Civil Authorities/Official Sources:
Any notification from an official source (Police, Social Services, etc.) that a Church Personnel has committed an act of sexual misconduct shall be considered an allegation and shall be investigated internally as set forth in the Internal Investigation Procedures. If criminal charges have been filed and said charges in Church Central’s opinion are not contrary to the basic civil and privacy rights of consenting adults, the accused shall be suspended from public ministerial duties until the conclusion of either the civil or internal investigations as Church Central shall see fit.
b. Allegations from Alleged Victim or Third Party:
i. Any Church Personnel who learns of any Sexual Misconduct shall contact his or her immediate supervisor. Said supervisor, if not already the Local Bishop, shall immediately inform the Local Bishop by whatever means expedites notification of the allegations.
ii. If the allegations of Sexual Abuse or Misconduct are made against the Church Personnel’s Local Bishop, then the Church Personnel shall contact Church Central.
iii. While initial notification of Sexual Misconduct may be made verbally by the victim or third party source, in order for an Internal Investigation to commence, the alleged victim or third party must place in writing all allegations in as much detail as possible. Said writing must be signed by the victim or third party as true and accurate to the best of their knowledge, information and belief.
iv. If the alleged victim is unable to place the allegation in writing, the local Bishop shall promptly offer to the alleged victim or third party the assistance of an individual to interview the alleged victim or third party in order that a transcript of their information may be obtained for submission of the allegation in writing to the local Bishop. Said writing must be signed
v. Unless received from a Civil Authority, an allegation of Sexual Misconduct is deemed not reported and no action may be taken until such time as a written report is received by the Local Bishop. For good cause and in the discretion of Church Central, action may be taken without a written report if Church Central feels the circumstances warrant immediate action.
c. Anonymous Allegations.
While the Church is aware of and sympathetic to the difficult nature of an individual bringing allegations of Sexual Misconduct against any of its clergy, seminarians, employees or volunteers, for the sake of fairness to the alleged offender and the integrity of the investigative process, anonymous allegations taken alone involving Sexual Misconduct against an adultother than a vulnerableshall not be considered an allegation. Anonymous allegations shall be documented, but no additional action shall be taken.In the case of an anonymous allegation involving a minor or a Vulnerable Adult, if the allegation is not obviously frivolous or excessively vague, it must be reported to civil authorities, and the accused shall be indefinitely suspended from public ministerial duties pending the outcome of the civil or internal investigation.
IX. INTERNAL INVESTIGATION PROCEDURES
a. Creation of Confidential Working File
Upon receipt of written allegations of Sexual Abuse or Sexual Misconduct, Church Central shall immediately compile a Confidential Working File (CWF) of the written report submitted to Church Central and any other records, notes or information in Church Central’s possession concerning the allegation(s) of Sexual Abuse or Sexual Misconduct, a copy of the alleged offender’s personnel file and any other past reports of Sexual Abuse or Misconduct concerning the alleged offender whether they were found to be with or without merit.
b. Appointment and Funding of the Investigative Committee:
i. The Investigative Committee (IC) shall be appointed by the Presiding Bishop.
ii. Church Central shall establish an initial budget for the IC to provide for all expenses deemed necessary and appropriate by the IC to investigate the accusation of Sexual Abuse or Misconduct. Church Central shall supplement said budget at the request of and upon appropriate documentation by the IC detailing the amount and need for additional funds.
iii. The IC shall consist of three individuals two of which shall be Bishops in the Church and the third a lay member of the Catholic Apostolic Church of Antioch.
iv. One of the two Bishops shall be appointed the Committee chair. The Committee chair shall be responsible for leading the course of the investigation, assigning responsibilities and ensuring that the Committee complies with the tenure of the Church’s stated policy as set forth herein.
v. Church Central shall make every effort to ensure that no member of the Committee has any personal relationship with the alleged offender and or the alleged victim(s).
vi. Members of the IC shall sign a confidentially agreement indicating their agreement, willingness and ability to maintain any and all information obtained, learned, garnered or revealed to them during the course of their investigation as Confidential from all entities and or individuals except Church Central, those individuals deemed appropriate by Church Central as needing to know and or civil authorities when required to do so by legal process.
vii. The IC shall be forwarded the CWF by Church Central.
viii. The IC shall keep careful records of its proceedings,
including detailed accounts of all its actions including but not limited to a detailed log of its deliberations and its conversations with the accused, the victim(s) and other witnesses or persons with whom communication of any kind has been made during the course of and in furtherance of its investigation including but not limited to copies of all correspondence, e-mails, faxes or any other written reports or notes and notes on any phone conversations.
ix. The IC will maintain the CWF until the Internal Investigation has been resolved. At that time, the records shall be forwarded to the Church Central where they will be marked “confidential” and securely stored. Members of the IC shall keep no separate or duplicate records of CWF that has been turned over to Church Central as a result of its work. All e-mails concerning the Internal Investigation shall be permanently deleted from IC members’ computers.
x. The IC shall have no contact with the media concerning the alleged incident(s) of Sexual Abuse or misconduct. All media contact shall be handled through Church Central.
c. Investigation by the IC:
i. Upon the receipt of a CWF, the IC shall draft an initial letter to the accused identifying itself, the details of the accusation made, whether a report has been made to the civil authorities of the alleged abuse or misconduct, advising to have no contact with the alleged victim and or his or her family, advising of the purpose of the IC, if a temporary suspension has been ordered, advising that such suspension is a temporary measure enacted to protect the safety of Minor, Vulnerable Adult or as a result of a criminal charge being levied against him/her by civil authorities and shall not be treated as a determination of the guilt or innocence of the accused and that while strict confidentiality will be sought, it cannot be guaranteed.
ii. The IC will also advise the alleged offender that any statements made to the IC can be used as evidence in its determination of an appropriate disciplinary measure to be recommended to Church Central including dismissal from Church ministry and or employment.
iii. The IC shall request that the alleged offender detail in writing any information the alleged offender has with reference to the alleged incident for which he or she is being accused including but not limited to his/her version of any events, possible witnesses that may be contacted, and any other information the alleged offender may have in his/her possession which they feel is relevant to the IC investigation.
iv. The IC shall also recommend that the alleged offender should seek legal advice since the accusations may result in Church, civil or criminal penalties against them including permanent suspension, dismissal or loss of employment.
v. If the accusation is one of Sexual Abuse against a Minor or Vulnerable Adult, the IC shall ensure that a report has been made to the proper civil authorities of the alleged incident(s).
d. Accusations of Sexual Abuse Against Minors or Vulnerable Adults:
i. The IC shall defer its investigation of any matter involving the accusation of abuse against a Minor or Vulnerable Adult until such time as the proper civil authorities have had the opportunity to conduct their investigation and if deemed necessary to move forward with prosecution in a criminal case.
ii. The IC shall draft an initial letter to the proper civil authorities identifying itself, indicating its intention to conduct an internal investigation, indicating their deferral of such investigation until such time as the proper civil authorities have completed their investigation and or prosecution and requesting that the civil authority inform the IC of when their investigation and or prosecution of the matter has been completed and if appropriate the results of the investigation.
iii. The purpose of this deferral is not to abrogate the duties of the IC or Church but rather to allow the proper civil authorities the opportunity to conduct their investigation without any possibility of actual or perceived witness tampering, intimidation, influence and to generally avoid confusion.
iv. If an investigation by civil authorities results in a finding of guilt by a trier of fact, a confession of guilt by the alleged offender or any other admission or acquiescence by the alleged offender which in the opinion of the IC constitutes an admission of guilt, the IC shall promptly prepare a report to Church Central indicating its findings in the matter, the results of the civil authorities investigation and or prosecution and a recommendation that the alleged offender be permanently dismissed from Church ministry and or employment.
v. If after an investigation, the appropriate civil authorities decide not to move forward with prosecution, find no basis to the allegations made against the alleged offender, or fail to secure a determination of guilt by a trier of fact, the IC shall conduct its own investigation of the alleged incident(s), including but not limited to: interviewing the alleged offender, the parents or guardian of the alleged victim, the alleged victim and any witnesses and gathering of all relevant evidence, including if possible any evidence, information and the findings compiled by the civil authorities.
vi. The IC shall make a recommendation to Church Central as to if any disciplinary measures that should be taken against the alleged offender or if the dismissal of the allegation(s) is warranted as without merit.
e. Allegations of Sexual Misconduct Involving Competent Adults:
i. If allegations of Sexual Misconduct involving competent adults are made against an alleged offender resulting in criminal charges by civil authorities, the IC shall promptly begin an investigation of the alleged incidents including but not limited to the gathering evidence and the interviewing of the alleged offender, the victim, if possible, and any other witnesses deemed necessary by the IC to the adjudication of justice.
ii. Within fourteen days of being forwarded the CWF, the IC shall complete an preliminary investigation and if the civil authorities have not completed their investigation or prosecution, the IC shall make an initial recommendation to Church Central as to whether indefinite suspension of the alleged offender should be continued pending resolution by the civil authorities of the criminal investigation/prosecution, if another disciplinary measure is appropriate or if the alleged offender should be reinstated to his/her position pending a final determination by civil authorities.
iii. If a finding has already been made by the appropriate civil authorities regarding the alleged incident, the IC upon the completion of its investigation shall make a final recommendation as to what if any disciplinary measures should be taken against the alleged offender or if the dismissal of the alleged offense is warranted as being found without merit.
f. Allegations from Victim(s) or Third Party Sources
i. If allegations of Sexual Misconduct involving competent adults are made against an alleged offender by a Victim or Third Party Source, the IC shall promptly begin an investigation of the alleged incidents including but not limited to the gathering evidence and the interviewing of the alleged offender, the victim, if possible, and any other witnesses deemed necessary by the IC to the adjudication of justice.
ii. Within seven days of its being forwarded the CWF by Church Central, the IC shall make an initial recommendation to Church Central as to what if any interim disciplinary measures should be taken against the alleged offender pending a full investigation by the IC and a final recommendation.
iii. For good cause and upon request by the IC the seven days specified in subsection IX(f)(ii) may be extended by Church Central.
iv. Within forty-five days of being forwarded the CWF by Church Central, the IC shall make a final recommendation to Church Central as to what if any permanent disciplinary measures should be taken against the alleged offender or if the dismissal of the alleged charges are warranted as being without merit.
v. For good cause and upon request by the IC, the forty-five days specified in subsection IX(f)(iv) may be extended by Church Central.
This policy is revised and in effect as of October 6, 2013.
+Mark Elliott Newman, OC
Most Rev. Mark Elliott Newman, OC