Portland diocese measures to stop abuse ‘compliant’

Posted Dec. 06, 2010, at 9:43 p.m.

PORTLAND, Maine — The Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland has been found in full compliance with the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.

The results of the annual external audit were announced Friday in a press release by Bishop Richard J. Malone.

The charter calls for background checks on all diocesan employees and volunteers who work regularly with minors; special sexual abuse prevention training to be provided to children, parents, diocesan employees and volunteers who work with children; and an effective response to reports of sexual abuse by church personnel.

“We are 100 percent compliant in all 13 areas of the audit, which was a three-day, very thorough review by independent auditors,” said Malone, the spiritual leader of Maine’s Roman Catholics. “Our background checks and training will undoubtedly ensure a safer environment for our children, and I pledge we will continue to work diligently to make sure safeguards are in place to prevent future abuse.”

The audit was conducted in September by the Gavin Group, an independent company of investigators led by Bill Gavin, who has nearly 30 years’ experience with the FBI. The independent audit reviewed the period from July 1, 2009, to June 30, 2010, according to the press release. It included on-site visits to 13 parishes consisting of 19 churches and two schools.

In addition, data on accusations of abuse made during the audit period were collected. During the time period covered by the audit, 10 complaints relating to seven priests were made. The earliest claim of reported abuse occurred in 1959, and the most recent report concerned incidents in 1982.

Two of the seven priests are deceased, two were not identified by the victims, one had earlier been removed from ministry because of a previous allegation, and the ministry of two has been restricted pending the outcome of investigations, according to the diocese.

“This sad and shameful episode of church history will continue for as long as victims are in pain,” Malone said. “While we are making great strides in prevention, I also encourage anyone who has been harmed by a church representative to make a report to church and civil authorities.”

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