May 17, 2005

Church sex abuse audit advances

Concord Monitor

Monitor staff

May 17. 2005 8:00AM

Two months after a judge dismissed objections by the Diocese of Manchester, state officials are about to begin long-delayed annual audits of the church's sexual abuse prevention policies.

The attorney general's office is close to signing a contract with KPMG, a Boston-based auditor, to review whether the church has improved the way it prevents and reports sexual abuse. The contract goes before the Executive Council for approval tomorrow.

The audits are a central piece of the landmark 2002 settlement between the state attorney general's office and the diocese. But the audits have been delayed for more than two years, as state and church officials sparred over the details.

Church officials challenged the state's proposal to review the effectiveness of its new policies. The diocese also wanted the state to pay the entire cost of the audits, estimated at $550,000 over four years. In March, Hillsborough County Superior Court Justice Carol Ann Conboy dismissed nearly all of the diocese's objections.

In the absence of an appeal by the diocese, state officials are taking Conboy's ruling as the final word on the audits.

"We intend to go forward, and it will go forward as KPMG and the state want it to," said Senior Assistant Attorney General Will Delker. "Time will tell whether all the diocese's problems (with the audits) are resolved."

Posted by kshaw at May 17, 2005 07:33 AM