Diocese clarifies policy on abuse reporting

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(Host) The Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington says it was mistaken when it said last week that it would no longer immediately report sexual abuse allegations to authorities.

VPR’s Steve Zind reports:

(Zind) Last week, the Reverend Wendall Searles said the diocese would be conducting its own investigation of sexual abuse allegations against priests and employees and give authorities the information only if it seemed credible. Searles is Vicar General of the Burlington Diocese:

(Searles) “When an allegation is made, the bishop of the diocese is required to enter into a preliminary investigation.”

(Zind) Now Bishop Kenneth Angell has issued a statement contradicting that position. In a pre-recorded statement, Angell says the diocese will immediately report alleged incidents of child sexual abuse:

(Angell) “Mandatory Reporting to the state authorities is the first action which is and will be taken whenever the diocese receives any allegation of sexual abuse of a minor. Thus the state authorities will be aware of every complaint the diocese will ever receive within 24 hours. This commitment alone insures that the investigation of sexual abuse will not be solely conducted by the diocese behind closed doors. The state will conduct its own investigation from the beginning.”

(Zind) Angell says a miscommunication within the diocese last week resulted in the confusion over the policy.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Steve Zind.

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