January 20, 2005

Diocese and AG maintain different views on scope of audit


By J.M. Hirsch, Associated Press Writer | January 20, 2005

MANCHESTER, N.H. -- A lawyer for the state's Roman Catholic diocese told a judge Thursday it was ready to submit to an audit of its child protection policies, but prosecutors said the evaluation the church envisions is meaningless.

The Diocese of Manchester and the attorney general's office have been at odds for nearly two years over the scope and cost of an audit of church policies intended to protect children from sexual abuse.

Annual audits for five years are required by a 2002 agreement between the church and state that ended a criminal investigation of whether diocesan officials knew members of the clergy were abusing children but failed to protect them.

The agreement landed in court when the diocese and state couldn't agree on the terms of the audit. The church says it agreed only to a check of whether it has policies and whether it trains people in them. The state says that unless it verifies the effectiveness of those policies, the audit is useless.

"The state leaps to the conclusion that because we all agree these are good goals, the state is empowered to do whatever it pleases with the audit," church lawyer David Vicinanzo said Thursday during a Hillsborough County Superior Court hearing.

Posted by kshaw at January 20, 2005 09:12 PM