Dearest Reader, Many long, hard days await us. The entire American Church will undergo what the dioceses of Pennsylvania have undergone. Deep pain and shame.
May the ordeal have this beautiful effect: Namely, that victims of sexual abuse in the state of Virginia, and throughout the US, will find the courage to seek justice. And may someone with authority have enough love and courage to try to see justice done.
For your information, I publish here an exchange of e-mails. I will follow up with further thoughts when I have time. Love, Fr. Mark
Thank you for sending the bishop’s message and enclosures. I have two questions about the announcement for the parish bulletin and website.
- Shouldn’t we include the telephone number for the diocesan Victims Assistance Coordinator? Is 1-877-887-9603 still the correct number? Or is there a particular reason for us not to include that number? Seems a little counter-productive to ask a victim to “reach out,” and then not provide the necessary contact information.
- Our hotline promises confidentiality. Do we know if the Attorney General’s hotline ensures it? Someone might want to call and talk through the process before going “on the record,” so to speak. Do we know if the Attorney General’s hotline will capture the caller ID?
Yours, Fr. Mark White
On Wed, Oct 24, 2018 at 3:56 PM Anne Edwards <email@example.com> wrote:
As you may have heard, the Virginia Attorney General’s Office has announced their ongoing investigation into whether criminal sexual abuse of children may have occurred in Virginia’s Catholic dioceses, and whether leadership in the dioceses may have covered up or abetted such crimes. We have also received word of a pending federal investigation. We have been cooperating with the state’s investigation and intend to cooperate with any federal investigation. In light of these investigations, I issue the following directives:
1. In order to protect any potential evidence, you must not destroy, discard, dispose of, delete, or alter any documents or electronically stored information which have anything to do with sexual conduct and/or allegations involving a minor and certain information regarding the organizational structure of the Diocese and related entities. Please review the attachment entitled “Enclosure to Letter of October 9, 2018” for an exhaustive list all documents which fall under this directive; [NB. Dear Reader, I will include this attachment in a subsequent post, since I have a great deal to say about it.]
(2) Do not discuss or comment on any aspect of any investigation with any media outlet or person. If you receive any media contact, please notify Deborah Cox at the Diocese at (804) 971-7412.
3. If you receive any legal paperwork or any contact from law enforcement or investigative entities related to child sexual abuse, notify Fr. Michael Boehling at the Diocese immediately at (804) 622-5124. Please politely refrain from discussing these matters with any investigators until you have received direction from the Diocese;
4. Please publish the following announcement in your church bulletin and post it on your parish website:
Bishop Knestout encourages anyone aware of misconduct or abuse on the part of clergy or staff of our diocese to notify civil authorities, call the Attorney General’s Clergy Abuse Hotline at 1(833) 454-9064, and reach out to the diocesan Victim Assistance Coordinator.
Also attached is a joint statement from Bishop Knestout and Bishop Burbidge in response to the Attorney General Investigation.
[NB. Click HERE to read the statement.]
Anne C. Edwards
Special Assistant & Advisor
Office of the Bishop
7800 Carousel Lane
Richmond, Virginia 23294