Abbey Policy on Sexual Abuse
Saint John’s Abbey has had a clear and definitive policy on addressing allegations of sexual abuse of a minor by a member of the Abbey since 1989. The policy is comprehensive and specifies the responsibilities of the Abbey and the Abbot to persons who may have been victims of sexual abuse as minors, to their families and to monks who may be accused of sexual abuse involving a minor. You may read the complete policy here.
The foundation of Saint John’s Abbey’s Policy on Sexual Abuse of a Minor:
The monks of Saint John’s Abbey are vowed to a chaste celibate way of life and mutual respect among persons with whom they come in contact, as they seek to imitate the love and respect Jesus showed to all. Saint John’s Abbey views sexual abuse of minors by its members to be morally reprehensible. In addressing an incident or allegation of child sexual abuse by a monk, the Abbey maintains a primary concern for the victim’s safety and well-being.
A synopsis of key points:
- Every allegation is reviewed, regardless of its initial plausibility or the identity of the monk named in the allegation.
- If an allegation is denied by the accused monk, an independent investigator will be retained in a timely manner to gather information and to make a confidential report to the Abbot. The report will be forwarded by the Abbot to the External Review Board (ERB) which has 30 days to review the findings and make a recommendation to the Abbot on whether it finds the fact of sexual abuse by the monk to be established.
- During the time the allegation is being investigated, the alleged victim and/or family will be offered pastoral support such as counseling and will be provided with the names of Assistance Coordinators to assist in advocacy and pastoral support.
- The Abbot may temporarily remove the monk from his work and/or residence pending the completion of the investigation. Removal will always be done if the allegation appears plausible and the monk works with minors.
- The Abbot and monks are required to report known or suspected abuse of a minor to the appropriate civil authorities in compliance with state law. If at any point civil authorities assume conduct of the investigation into the allegation, the Abbey will suspend its independent investigation pending the outcome of civil or criminal investigations. The Abbey will cooperate fully with appropriate state and federal authorities.
- If the fact of sexual abuse by a monk is not established, the case will be closed, the monk will be reinstated to any responsibilities and duties from which he was removed and the Abbey will make every effort to restore the good name of the accused monk.
- If the allegation of sexual abuse is substantiated through the monk’s admission or the process outlined above and the monk is not subject to confinement or other restrictions under criminal law, a Safety Plan will be developed to supervise the monk’s work, travel, campus activity and associations and to reduce any risks posed to minors by the monk.
- The Abbey will inform any organization – including schools, parishes or civic groups – in which the monk has abused a minor. If the allegation arose in the context of ministry or employment in a diocesan entity, the Abbey will follow the policies of the diocese on pastoral responses to communities affected by the allegation.
*The policy is periodically updated to reflect changes in civil, criminal and canonical law. The current revision was approved in 2010.