March 05, 2005

Advocates, critics review catholic abuse policy



March 5, 2005

It was every school official's worst nightmare.

At 4:20 p.m. on a late January school day, a fax came to Manatee Schools Superintendent Roger Dearing in Bradenton, Fla., warning that one of his assistant principals had been accused of molesting two boys while a Catholic seminarian 30 years earlier.

By 4:45, Dearing had placed the longtime educator on administrative leave. Within two days, the assistant principal had resigned.

Why weren't those allegations -- contained in a civil lawsuit in Massachusetts and a complaint to the Portland, Maine, Diocese -- known to Dearing?

Victims' advocates say that's one of the largest holes in the so-called "one strike and you're out" policy adopted by the nation's Roman Catholic bishops in June 2002, and now under review in the United States and Rome.

"If a bishop asked me, 'What is the quickest, cheapest, most effective step I could take to protect the safety of children today,' I would tell them that it would simply be to put the names of the known and suspected molesters up on diocesan Web sites," said David Clohessy, national president of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

Posted by kshaw at March 5, 2005 08:05 PM