Archdiocese of Ottawa
March 23, 1987
GUIDELINES IN CASES OF CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE BY A CLERIC
1. INTERVIEW WITH PARENTS
As soon as a cleric is accused and the parents’ name is known, a compassionate, understanding and experienced person will meet with the parents, in the name of the archbishop. (The child in question is not to assist at this first meeting, but should instead be interviewed by a mental health professional, familiar with problems of children in this age group).
2. INTERVIEW WITH THE CLERIC
If there is any possible substance to the accusation against the cleric, the Ordinary should meet with him and discuss the problem in a fraternal way.
a) If the cleric admits to the accusation of sexual misconduct, the Ordinary and the cleric will choose, in mutual agreement, an expert facility where psychiatric evaluation and treatment may be had. Again by common accord, the cleric will immediately quit his ministry in the diocese.
b) If the cleric does not admit to any type of sexual misconduct, and if the Ordinary is convinced that the allegation has some truth to it, he should, in discreet fashion, immediately suspend the cleric and begin a further investigation of the case. This course of action does not mean that the Ordinary considers the cleric «guilty». It means that at all costs, he has to protect his diocese should legal prosecution ensue, and this independently of a trial’s outcome.
3. INTERVIEW WITH THE LAWYERS
The Ordinary must immediately seek legal help from competent lawyers, who will advise him of his obligations, including that of reporting a case of suspected child abuse to the appropriate agency, and who will also advise the accused if he is prosecuted. Then the law will follow its course. If the accusation proves to be true, the cleric must leave the diocese for an unspecified length of time, not only for his own good but also for that of the victims and the parishioners.
4. SECRET DOCUMENTS
At the very first meeting of the Ordinary and the cleric accused of sexual child abuse, the essence of the conversation should be documented immediately by the Ordinary, who will give one copy to the cleric and consign the other to the secret archives.
Archbishop of Ottawa