Child Protection & Outreach Policy


Introduction and Statement of Purpose: 

The Gospel of Jesus Christ proclaims the sacredness of life and commands us to protect life at all stages and in all circumstances. This gospel mandate especially pertains to the lives of those who are innocent and most vulnerable. The sexual abuse of minors violates the very nature and mission of the Church and the gospel message that has been entrusted to us. Our Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, reminded us in his Address to the Cardinals of the United States in April 2002 that the sexual abuse of minors is “by every standard wrong and rightly considered a crime by society; it is also an appalling sin in the eyes of God.”

At their November 2002 General Meeting, the U.S. Catholic bishops approved the revised Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People and the Essential Norms for Diocesan/Eparchial Policies Dealing with Allegations of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Priests or Deacons. These important documents express the bishops’ profound sorrow for the crime of sexual abuse perpetrated by some members of the clergy while re-affirming their commitment to safeguarding the protection of our youth. The Bishop of Providence wholeheartedly embraces the Charter and Essential Norms and intends to implement their contents through the establishment of the policies and procedures contained in this policy statement.

Because the sexual abuse of minors affects the entire Church, all members of the Church share in a common mission to work towards its prevention while bringing the healing presence of Christ to bear wherever possible. In the enactment of this policy statement, the diocese has further reinforced its strong and long-standing commitment to utilize every means possible to protect the well-being of all children and young people involved in diocesan schools, parishes and youth programs. Diocesan prevention efforts have been updated and expanded and a more comprehensive pastoral outreach response has been established.

Section 1: Definitions
1.1 Minor: An individual who has not attained the age of eighteen (18). For the purposes of reporting as outlined in this policy a minor shall also include an individual over the age of 18 who habitually lacks  the use of reason.

1.2 Types of Abuse:

a. Sexual abuse includes any act of vaginal, anal, or oral intercourse; vaginal or anal penetrations; and other forms of inappropriate touching, exhibitionism for sexual gratification, or acts of sexual exploitation performed by an adult with a child.

b. Physical abuse includes any types of physical assaults (such as striking, kicking, biting, throwing, burning, or poisoning) that caused, or could have caused, serious physical injury to the child.

c. Emotional abuse involves any physical or emotional assaults (such as torture or close confinement) that caused or could have caused serious psychological injury to the child.

d. Neglect involves a failure to provide the basic necessities (such as food, clothing, hygiene, and shelter) for a child, and/or a lack of appropriate care for a child including grossly inadequate parental supervision or ethical guidance, or grossly inadequate attention to the child’s physical, medical, psychological, emotional, or educational needs.

e. Pornography – The acquisition, possession and distribution of pornographic images of children.

1.3 Diocesan Personnel: Priests, religious, deacons, lay employees, contract workers who have regular contact with children through diocesan programs and activities.

1.4 Volunteer: Any unpaid person involved in a diocesan program or activity who is entrusted with the care and supervision of children.

Section 2: Pastoral Standards and Code of Conduct
2.1 Diocesan Mandate and Individual Responsibility for Adherence

All diocesan personnel and volunteers must uphold Christian values and conduct. Clergy, staff, and volunteers need to be aware, at all times, of the responsibilities that accompany their pastoral involvement with children. The guidelines that follow provide a set of standards for pastoral conduct in diocesan programs and activities for children. Responsibility for adherence to these standards rests with the individual. Clergy, staff, or volunteers who fail to uphold these standards will be subject to corrective and/or disciplinary action depending on the specific nature and circumstances of the offense.

2.2 Conduct for Priests, Deacons and others who serve as pastoral counselors and spiritual directors

Priests, deacons and others who are credentialed as pastoral counselors and spiritual directors…

2.2.1 …will not be involved beyond their competence in counseling situations and will refer clients to other professionals when appropriate.

2.2.2 …will avoid situations that might present a conflict of interest and carefully consider the possible consequences prior to entering into a counseling arrangement with someone with whom they have a pre-existing relationship (i.e. employee, professional colleague, friend, or other pre-existing relationship).

2.2.3 …will not audiotape or videotape sessions for training purposes without the explicit informed consent of the individual client or their guardian.

2.2.4 …will never engage in sexual intimacies with the individuals they counsel. This includes consensual and nonconsensual contact, forced physical contact, and inappropriate sexual comments.

2.2.5 …will not engage in sexual intimacies with those who are close to the client (i.e. relatives or friends of the client) when there is a risk of exploitation or potential harm to the client. The pastoral minister needs to be fully aware of the potential for exploitation or harm that exists in such intimate relationships.

2.2.6 …will assume the full burden of responsibility for establishing and maintaining clear, appropriate boundaries in all counseling and counseling-related activities.

2.2.7 …will be aware that physical contact (i.e. touching, hugging) with those in counseling can be misconstrued and should only occur when it is nonsexual and otherwise appropriate and always with the best interest of the client in mind.

2.2.8 …will conduct sessions with clients in appropriate settings and at appropriate times. No sessions will be held at places or times that would tend to cause confusion about the nature of the relationship for the client.

2.2.9 …will be involved in ongoing formation and development in order to remain up-to-date with professional competencies.

2.3 Confidentiality

2.3.1 Information disclosed to a priest, deacon, or others who are credentialed as pastoral counselors or spiritual directors during the course of counseling will be confidential, except for compelling reasons or as required by law.

2.3.2 In cases where there is clear and imminent risk of self-harm or danger to others, only the information necessary to protect those who may be affected may be disclosed in order to prevent harm.

2.3.3 When counseling a minor, if disclosure of confidential information to a parent or legal guardian is deemed necessary to safeguard the child’s well-being only that information pertaining to the procurement of the well-being of the minor will be disclosed (in accordance with state law).

2.3.4 In situations where disclosure of information is indicated, whenever possible, the individual who is in counseling should be informed about the disclosure and the potential consequences prior to information being disclosed.

2.3.5 The nature of confidentiality and its limitations will be discussed with those in counseling at the outset of the counseling process.

2.3.6 Those who provide counseling or spiritual direction will maintain minimal records of the content of sessions in order to sustain the integrity of the counseling process. Strict confidentiality will be maintained for all record keeping.

2.3.7 Knowledge that is obtained from counseling or spiritual direction may be utilized in teaching, writing, homilies, or other public presentations only when appropriate measures are taken to safeguard confidentiality.

The ethical standards cited above are independent of the confidentiality of the confessional. Under no circumstances whatsoever can there be any disclosure, including indirect disclosure, of information received through the confessional.
2.4 Conduct with Youth

Clergy, staff, and volunteers working with youth will comport with the following Code of Ethical Conduct:

2.4.1 Catholic parishes, schools, and agencies will maintain an environment that is free from all forms of intimidation and harassment: physical, verbal, written, psychological, social, and electronic.

2.4.2 Catholic parishes, schools, and agencies will employ disciplinary practices that respect the dignity of each child. It is not acceptable to strike, shake or slap a child.

2.4.3 Adults will not provide a gift to an individual young person without prior approval from the administrator of the program or parent/guardian.

2.4.4 Adults will meet with an individual young person in an open and public area.

2.4.5 Adults will not be alone with a young person in a residence, sleeping facility, locker room, rest room, dressing facility or other closed room or isolated area.

2.4.6 Adults will not provide alcohol, controlled substances or pornographic materials to young people at any time.

2.4.7 Adults will not use or be under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances while participating in a youth activity. Adults or minors who are under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances are not permitted to participate in youth events. No alcoholic beverages will be accessible or served during events which are designed specifically for children.

2.4.8 Adults will not drive alone with a young person without explicit parental or guardian consent.

2.4.9 Adults will report abuse or inappropriate activities involving a minor to appropriate personnel immediately.

2.4.10 Adults will cooperate fully with Diocesan and/or law enforcement personnel in any investigation of abuse of children and/or youth.

2.5 Harassment

2.5.1 Clergy, staff, and volunteers will maintain a professional work environment that is free from physical, psychological, written, or verbal intimidation or harassment at all times.

2.5.2 Harassment encompasses a broad range of behavior, including but not limited to the following:

  • Physical or mental abuse
  • Racial insults
  • Ethnic slurs
  • Unwelcome sexual advances or touching
  • Sexual comments or jokes
  • Requests for sexual favors as a condition of employment, promotion, or compensation
  • Display of offensive materials

2.5.3 Harassment can be a single severe incident or a persistent pattern of behavior where the purpose or the effect is to create a hostile, offensive, or intimidating work environment.

2.5.4 Diocesan personnel policies addressing harassment will be followed at all times in order to protect the rights of those involved. Allegations of harassment will be taken seriously and established reporting procedures as outlined in the current diocesan personnel policy handbook will be utilized as indicated.

2.6 Confidentiality Pertaining to Record Keeping and Information

2.6.1 Confidentiality will be maintained in all aspects of record keeping, including creation, storage, access, transfer, and disposal of parish records – unless otherwise required by law.

2.6.2 Sacramental records and individual contribution records shall be regarded as private and shall be maintained in strictest confidence.

2.7 Conflicts of Interest

2.7.1 Clergy, staff, and volunteers will be mindful of situations that may present a conflict of interest.

2.7.2 No clergy, staff, or volunteer should take advantage of anyone to whom they are providing services in order to further their personal, religious, political, or business interests.

2.7.3 Pastoral counselors will generally avoid providing counseling services to anyone with whom they have a business, professional, or social relationship. When this is unavoidable, the counselor will establish and maintain clear, appropriate boundaries in order to protect the client’s best interests.

2.7.4 When pastoral counseling or spiritual direction services are provided to two or more persons who have a relationship with one another, the counselor will clarify with all parties the nature of each relationship, take proactive action in addressing any potential or emerging conflict of interest, and obtain from all parties written consent to continue services.

2.7.5 Conflicts of interest may also arise when the counselor’s objective judgment is impaired because of prior dealings with an individual, by becoming personally involved, or by becoming an advocate for one person against another. In these circumstances, the counselor will advise the parties that he or she can no longer provide services and refer them to another counselor.

2.8 Accountability and Duty to Report

2.8.1 Clergy, staff, and volunteers must hold each other accountable for maintaining the highest ethical and professional standards of behavior. When there is a violation of any of these standards by a member of the clergy, a staff person, or a volunteer, the issue will be reported immediately to the local authority or to the supervisor of the employee or volunteer. This individual shall then immediately inform the Moderator of the Curia who shall in turn notify the Director of the Office of Education and Compliance.

2.8.2 When an uncertainty exists about whether a situation or course of conduct is in violation of these standards, an individual will consult with the local authority, a supervisor, or the Director of the Office of Education and Compliance.

2.9 Administration

2.9.1 Personnel and other administrative decisions made by clergy, staff, and volunteers shall meet civil and canon law obligations reflect Catholic social teachings, and these standards of ethical conduct.

2.9.2 No clergy, staff, or volunteer shall use his or her position to exercise unreasonable authority or inappropriate power or authority.

2.9.3 Each volunteer providing service to children must read and sign all applicable guidelines related to conduct with youth prior to the provision of services.

2.10 Staff and Volunteer Well-Being

2.10.1 Clergy, staff, and volunteers should be mindful of warning signs that may be indicative of the potential for their own spiritual, physical, mental and/or emotional health being compromised. They should seek appropriate help whenever they become aware of behavioral or emotional warning signs in their own professional and/or personal lives.

Section 3: Education and Training

3.1 General Purpose and Program Objective

The Bishop of Providence is strongly committed to the prevention of child abuse and to identifying and reporting abuse promptly when it has occurred. Through the Office of Education and Compliance a program of education and training specifically focused on the prevention, recognition, and reporting of child abuse was initiated in 1993. Since this time, many diocesan personnel having regular contact with children have attended training seminars and workshops relating to the awareness and reporting of child abuse. The current educational program policy represents a continuation of this commitment while providing a more comprehensive and systematic approach to diocesan-wide education and training in the prevention, recognition, and reporting of child abuse. It mandates the participation of all diocesan personnel and volunteers who have regular contact with children in a program of child abuse prevention and reporting.  A renewal of this program should occur every three years. It includes specialized educational initiatives focusing on the awareness of safety issues designed for all children attending diocesan schools and those who participate in other diocesan youth programs or activities. In addition, all parents of children in diocesan schools, youth programs, or other youth activities will be encouraged to participate in a parent education workshop to increase child abuse awareness and prevention.

3.2 Participation of Diocesan Personnel

The following diocesan personnel will participate in an education program on the awareness, prevention, and reporting of child abuse:

a. All priests, deacons, and members of religious communities who have regular contact with children through parish programs and diocesan youth activities.

b. All principals, assistant principals, teachers, guidance counselors, staff, office personnel and volunteers in diocesan elementary, middle and high schools.

c. All directors, catechists and staff of religious education programs.

d. All youth ministers, coordinators of youth activities, athletic coaches and others who are involved with youth in a similar capacity.

e. All diocesan personnel who provide child care services.

The initial educational requirement for all diocesan personnel is a review of the entire training curriculum during the first year and a renewal every three years.

3.3 Educational Curriculum

Priests, deacons, religious, administrative personnel, staff and volunteers who have regular contact with children through diocesan schools and other youth programs will attend a program of training that includes the following content areas:

a. Appropriate boundaries and standards of pastoral behavior

b. Definitions of abuse and types of sexual abuse of children

c. Signs and symptoms of child abuse

d. Awareness of signs to look for in those who may be abusive to children

e. Laws, policies and procedures for the reporting of child abuse

f. Diocesan guidelines for the prevention of child abuse

g. Pastoral response to reports of sexual abuse

Parents of children who attend diocesan schools or who participate in youth programs will be strongly encouraged to attend a program of training that includes the following content areas:

a. Definitions of abuse and types of sexual abuse of children

b. Signs and symptoms of child abuse

c. Awareness of signs to look for in those who may be abusive to children

d. Laws, policies and procedures for the reporting of child abuse

e. Diocesan guidelines for the prevention of child abuse

f. Conversations between parents and children regarding awareness of safety issues

g. Strategies for the protection of children from potential abuse

Children and young people who attend diocesan schools or who participate in youth programs, with parental consent, will be involved in a program of annual training that includes the following content areas:

a. Age-appropriate materials pertaining to personal safety and safety skills

b. Socially acceptable boundaries and appropriate/inappropriate physical contact with others

c. Ability to be assertive in unwanted situations

d. Ability to identify trustworthy adults with whom children can confide

e. Importance of disclosure if inappropriate actions are directed to oneself or others

f. Recognition that abusive situations are not the fault of the child

g. Appropriate standards of behavior for children and youth focusing on personal dignity and respect for others

3.4 Requirement for the Completion of Training and Monitoring

New staff and volunteers who have regular contact with children through diocesan schools or youth programs will receive essential information pertaining to the awareness, prevention and reporting of child abuse as part of their orientation process. In addition, new personnel will participate in a program of training (as specified in section 3.3). Pastors, principals and agency administrators will ensure that all appropriate personnel receive essential information and training as outlined and will maintain a record of training completion. Copies of attendance records and number of training sessions will be maintained at the local school or parish level.

Section 4: Screening Procedures for Diocesan Personnel

It is the policy of the Diocesan Catholic Schools Office and the Diocesan Office for Catholic Youth Ministry to require the completion of a Background Criminal Investigation (BCI) check for all staff.  All volunteers will have a State BCI background clearance. A comprehensive screening and evaluative process, including a criminal background check, is currently in place for candidates for ordination Beginning in 2004, all new diocesan employees having regular contact with children will be required to complete a reference check and a BCI check.

Section 5: Supervision Procedures When Working With Youth

All clergy, religious, staff, and volunteers who are involved in schools or programs for youth will employ the following supervision procedures:

a. An adequate number of adults will be present at events involving children and youth.

b. Prudent supervision is provided at all times during youth activities with at least two adult chaperones present and accessible to young people on trips and outings.

c. Adults will not use or be under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances while participating in a youth activity. Adults or minors who are under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances are not permitted to participate in youth events.

d. Adults will not provide alcohol, controlled substances or inappropriate materials to young people at any time.

e. A “buddy system” of a young person with another young person is a good safety policy during trips.

f. Adults will meet with young people in areas that are accessible and visible. One-on-one meetings with a young person are best held in a public area or in a room with a glass door, or if that is not available, then the door to the room is left open. Someone on staff is to be notified about the meeting.

Section 6: Civil Reporting Requirements

6.1 General Principle

The protection of children and young people is a responsibility that is shared by the entire community, including the Church, parents, teachers, healthcare professionals, public safety officials, social service agencies and the general public. This policy statement fully embraces the principles specified in the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, including working closely with civil authorities to prevent child abuse and neglect, reporting alleged incidents of abuse and neglect in a prompt manner, cooperating with civil authorities in the investigation of allegations, and advising those who may have been violated of their right to report independently while supporting their exercise of that right.

6.2 Reporting Suspected Abuse

Rhode Island state law imposes an affirmative duty on all persons who have reasonable cause to know or suspect that abuse or neglect of a child has occurred to make a report of this, within 24 hours, to the Department of Children, Youth, and Families (R.I.G.L. 40-11-3). The report must be made in “good faith,” i.e. any reasonable person, given the same information, would draw a conclusion that abuse or neglect may have occurred. Any person making a report in good faith has immunity from liability, civil or criminal, that might otherwise be incurred or imposed. A good faith reporter will have the same immunity with respect to participation in any judicial proceeding resulting from such a report (R.I.G.L. 40-11-4). Failure to report known or suspected child abuse or neglect is a violation of the law (R.I.G.L. 40-11-6-1).

To report suspected child abuse or neglect, individuals will contact Child Protective Services (CPS) by calling the Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline Systems (CANTS) at 1-800-RI-CHILD to speak with a Child Protective Investigator. The Hotline may be accessed 24-hours a day, 7 days a week.

Section 7: Diocesan Policies and Procedures for Responding to Allegations of Sexual Misconduct

7.1 Introduction and Statement of Purpose

The allegation of any sexual misconduct involving minors or occurring in the context of ministry with children or adults will be treated with utmost seriousness and investigated thoroughly. Concern for those who report having been violated and prevention of any further harm will be the priorities of such an investigation. Since the allegation of sexual misconduct is a matter of grave concern and responsibility to the Church and to the civil authorities, all canonical and legal reporting requirements will be carefully observed.

7.2 Reporting of Allegations

It is diocesan policy that sexual misconduct or the failure to report an observation or complaint of sexual misconduct is a violation of an employee’s obligations of employment and one’s commitment to Christian service. In the case of volunteers, such behavior is considered to be a violation of one’s responsibility to those whom they serve.

If an employee or volunteer observes or receives a complaint of an individual’s sexual misconduct, he/she shall record the date and time of the observation or of the communication of the complaint and the name, address and telephone number of the person communicating the complaint. A report of the observation or complaint shall be made immediately to the local authority (Agency Director, Pastor, and Principal) or to the immediate supervisor of the employee or volunteer. Supervisory personnel shall then immediately inform the Moderator of the Curia who shall in turn notify the Director of the Office of Education and Compliance.

7.3 Investigation of Allegations and Pastoral Response

Upon receiving a complaint, the Director of the Office of Education and Compliance will initiate an immediate preliminary investigation of the facts and circumstances of the complaint. According to the circumstances, the local authority will be responsible to insure that pastoral care is extended to all concerned. In the case of an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor on the part of a member of the clergy or other diocesan personnel, whether the allegation pertains to recent behavior or misconduct committed in the past, the Director of the Office of Education and Compliance will notify the Director of the Office of Outreach and Prevention, who will be available for the immediate pastoral care of the individual communicating the allegation.

Following a preliminary investigation, if it is certain that the complaint is corroborated or clearly reliable, the appropriate supervisor or local authority may immediately suspend the subject of the complaint. Otherwise, in the case of an employee, upon determining that there are reasonable grounds to believe that sexual misconduct has occurred, the Bishop, his designee or local authority will direct that the subject be suspended with pay during a full investigation of the facts and circumstances of the allegation. The employer may require the subject to undergo psychological examination by designated health care professionals as a condition precedent to the termination of suspension or the continuation of employment. At the conclusion of the investigation, discipline may be applied in accord with Personnel Policies 5.0 et. seq. In the case of a volunteer, if there are reasonable grounds to believe that that sexual misconduct has occurred, the individual will be suspended from any diocesan volunteer activities pending the outcome of the investigation.

When an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor by a priest or a deacon is received, a preliminary investigation, in harmony with canon law (CIC, cc. 1717-1719; CCEO, cc. 1468-1470), will be initiated and conducted by the Director of the Office of Education and Compliance in a prompt and objective manner. If this investigation so indicates, the Bishop will notify the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and apply the precautionary measures cited in CIC, canon 1722, or CCEO, canon 1473 (i.e. relieve the alleged offender promptly of his ministerial duties). The alleged offender may be requested to seek, or urged voluntarily to undergo, appropriate medical and/or psychological evaluation, provided this does not interfere with an investigation by civil authorities.

In determining an appropriate response, the Bishop will confer with The Diocesan Review Board for the Protection of Children and Youth. This board, comprised primarily of professionally competent lay persons who are not in the employ of the diocese, will serve as a confidential consultative body to the Bishop advising him in his assessment of allegations of sexual abuse of minors and in his determination of suitability for ministry. The board can be utilized by the Bishop to review these matters both retrospectively and prospectively and provide advice on all aspects of responses required in connection with these cases. Current membership and specific responsibilities of The Diocesan Review Board for the Protection of Children and Youth are noted in Appendix A.

For the sake of due process, the accused will be encouraged to retain the assistance of civil and canonical council. Canonical council will be provided for a priest or deacon as needed. When an accusation is proved to be unfounded, every means possible will be employed to restore the positive reputation of the priest or deacon.

When sexual abuse of a minor is admitted or established following an appropriate process in accord with canon law, even for a single act of sexual abuse committed recently or in the distant past, the offending priest or deacon will be permanently removed from ministry, not excluding dismissal from the clerical state, if the case so warrants. In all cases, the offending priest or deacon will be offered professional assistance for his own healing and well-being, as well as for the purpose of prevention.

In every case involving canonical penalties, the processes provided for in canon law will be observed (cf. Canonical Delicts Involving Sexual Misconduct And Dismissal from the Clerical State, 1995; cf. Letter from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, May 18, 2001). Canon law also provides for the request by a priest or deacon for dispensation from the obligation of holy orders and the loss of the clerical state or a request by the Bishop for dismissal from the clerical state even without the consent of the priest or deacon (cf. Canonical Delicts). At all times, the Bishop possesses the executive power of governance, through an administrative act, to remove an offending cleric from office, to remove or restrict his faculties, and to limit his exercise of priestly ministry.

If the penalty of dismissal from the clerical state has not been applied (e.g. for reasons of advanced age or infirmity), the offending priest or deacon will not be permitted to celebrate Mass publicly or to administer the sacraments. He will be instructed not to wear clerical garb or to present himself publicly as a cleric.

No priest or deacon who has committed an act of sexual abuse of a minor will be transferred for ministerial assignment to another diocese or religious province. In the case of a transfer of residence of an offending cleric who has not been removed from the clerical state, due to advanced age or infirmity, the Bishop will forward, in as confidential manner as possible, to the local bishop of the proposed place of residence any and all information concerning any act of sexual abuse of a minor and any other information that the individual has presented or may present a risk of harm to minors (cf. National Conference of Catholic Bishops and Conference of Major Superiors of Men, Proposed Guidelines on the Transfer or Assignment of Clergy and Religious, 1993).

7.4 Sexual Harassment Policy

It is the policy of the Bishop of Providence to hold all diocesan personnel accountable for maintaining the integrity of all ministerial and professional relationships. In one’s capacity as a diocesan employee or volunteer should an individual engage in the sexual harassment of parishioners, clients, employees, co-workers, or volunteers, his/her behavior will be considered irresponsible and unethical. Incidents of sexual harassment may also constitute a violation of federal and state law. Sexual harassment in any form will not be tolerated and such conduct may result in disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment or volunteer involvement.

Sexual harassment in employment is defined under Rhode Island State law to include any unwelcome sexual conduct or advances or requests for sexual favors or any other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature including:

• Submission to any unwelcome sexual conduct or advances or requests is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment

• Submission to or rejection of any unwelcome sexual conduct or advances or requests by an individual is used as the basis for employment decisions affecting such individual

• Any unwelcome sexual conduct or advances or requests has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with the individual’s work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment

The definition of sexual harassment by the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is very similar. Under these guidelines, direct or implied requests by a Director, Manager or Supervisor for sexual favors in exchange for actual or promised job benefits or based on a threat to adversely affect the employee’s job may also constitute sexual harassment.

The legal definition of sexual harassment is broad and other sexually oriented conduct, whether it is intended or not, that is unwelcome and has the effect of creating an environment that is hostile, offensive, intimidating or humiliating may also constitute sexual harassment. While it is not possible to list all those circumstances that may constitute sexual harassment, the following are some examples of conduct, which, if unwelcome, may constitute sexual harassment depending upon the totality of the circumstances including the severity of the conduct and its pervasiveness:

• Unwelcome sexual advances, whether involving physical touching or not

• Sexual epithets, jokes, written or oral references to sexual conduct, gossip regarding one’s sex life, comment on an individual’s body, comment about an individual’s sexual activity, deficiencies, or prowess

• Displaying sexually suggestive objects, pictures, cartoons

• Unwelcome leering, whistling, brushing against the body, sexual gestures, suggestive or insulting comments

• Inquiries into one’s sexual experiences or discussion of one’s sexual activities

If an individual believes that he/she has been sexually harassed, the individual should immediately notify his/her supervisor. If the individual’s immediate supervisor is the source of the alleged harassment, then the concern should be reported to the supervisor’s superior, the Vicar General, the Moderator of the Curia, or the Chancellor.

A director, supervisor or designated person who receives a sexual harassment complaint will carefully and promptly investigate the matter in a fair and expeditious manner. The investigation will include private interviews with the person filing the complaint and with witnesses or others who may have knowledge of either the incident in question or similar concerns. The investigation will be conducted in such a way as to maintain confidentiality to the extent feasible under the circumstances. If it is determined that inappropriate conduct has occurred, the offending conduct will be promptly eliminated, and, where appropriate, other remedial action will be taken. A copy of this investigation will be forwarded upon completion in a timely manner to the Director of the Office of Education and Compliance.

An employee who brings forth a complaint in good faith will be listened to and treated in a respectful manner. The intimidation or retaliation towards an individual who has communicated a complaint or towards others cooperating with an investigation of a complaint will not be tolerated.

Employees who are dissatisfied with the resolution of a sexual harassment complaint may seek resolution under Policy Section 5.0 et seq. of the disciplinary policy, or section 6.0 et seq. of the Grievance Procedures. In addition, an individual may file a formal complaint to the Rhode Island Commission for Human Rights (401-222-2661) and/or the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (617-565-3200). Utilization of the diocesan complaint process does not prohibit an individual from filing a complaint with the above agencies.

7.5 Cooperation with Civil Authorities

In the implementation of the above policies and procedures regarding sexual misconduct and sexual harassment, it is the intention of the Bishop of Providence and those assisting him in these matters, to cooperate with law enforcement and governmental authorities and to complete necessary reporting, as required by law, provided that the cooperation does not require violation of legal rights of other persons, including rights of privacy and confidentiality based upon the seal of the Sacrament of Reconciliation and pursuant to the notion of Internal Forum.

Allegations concerning sexual abuse of a minor will be reported to the public authorities by the Director of the Office of Education and Compliance in accordance with civil reporting procedures described in Section 6 of this policy document. Individuals who bring forth allegations will be advised of their right to make a report to civil authorities and this right will be supported. Confidentiality agreements with individuals will not be entered into except at the request of the individual and only for grave and substantial reasons brought forth by an individual and documented in the text of the agreement. An agreement must disclose that any promise of confidentiality could be overridden by court order.

7.6 Communications Policy

The Bishop of Providence is committed to openness and transparency in all matters relating to the sexual abuse of minors. Designated officials of the diocese will make every effort to communicate openly and in a timely manner with the public through the news media and other available means including:

  • Emails to priests and parishes
  • Press releases to the diocesan newspaper, the Rhode Island Catholic, and other secular media including print, radio and television
  • Parish bulletin announcements
  • Statements on the Diocesan web site
  • Ads in the diocesan newspaper and other major print media
  • Information posted on diocesan social media sites including Facebook and Twitter

The diocesan Office of Communications, in coordination with the Moderator of the Curia, will be the primary source for the public release of pertinent information about sexual abuse cases and policies. Inquiries should be directed to the Office of Communications at (401)-278-4600, or via e-mail at

Section 8: Pastoral Outreach to Those Who Report Abuse, to Their Families, and to Faith Communities

8.1 General Principle

The relationship between the Church and its members is sacred. When clergy or other diocesan personnel are involved in the abuse of children this sacred trust is violated and profound harm is done. Whenever abuse has occurred, whether recently or in the past, the Church has a pastoral responsibility to reach out to those who have been violated. The Bishop of Providence has established the Office of Outreach & Prevention in order to promote healing and reconciliation by offering compassionate and timely pastoral care to those who report abuse, their immediate families and to affected faith communities. The Bishop or his designee will continue to be personally available to meet with individuals and their immediate family members who desire such a meeting and the Director of the Office of Outreach & Prevention will be available to meet with individuals and faith communities that have been affected and to provide ongoing support and assistance for their pastoral needs.

8.2 Pastoral Outreach to Individuals, Families and Faith Communities

The Director of the Office of Outreach & Prevention will be available to coordinate assistance for the immediate pastoral care of persons who claim to have been violated by a member of the clergy or other diocesan personnel. An ongoing pastoral response to those individuals who report abuse, their immediate families and to affected faith communities will be offered in order to promote a continued process of healing and reconciliation. Specific pastoral responses may include:

a. Attentive listening and expressions of compassion and support

b. Acknowledgement and acceptance of feelings of anger, pain and mistrust as part of the healing process

c. A statement of apology and remorse by a diocesan official

d. Open discussion with the faith community that allows for education, healing and reconciliation

e. Education of the faith community in order to facilitate their understanding, acceptance, and support of those who have been violated and their healing process.

f. Counseling assistance as described in Section 8.3 below.

8.3 Counseling Assistance

The Diocese offers pastoral and counseling support through the Office of Outreach and Prevention. In appropriate circumstances, such assistance may include helping to defray the costs of an individual’s involvement in psychological counseling sessions with licensed mental health professionals. Our hope is that individual counseling may provide therapeutic support to complement other efforts towards healing and wholeness.

Individuals seeking assistance in defraying the costs of counseling are expected to utilize their insurance benefits whenever possible.

Any support offered by the Office of Outreach and Prevention is pastoral in nature and not an expression of guilt or liability on the part of anyone. The Office Outreach and Prevention may, at its discretion, review, revise, limit or withdraw any assistance it provides under this policy.

8.4 Additional Forms of Pastoral Care

Pastoral care extended to individuals may also include spiritual assistance and the identification of support groups, social services, or other resources to promote healing as agreed upon by the individual and the Office of Outreach & Prevention. Cooperation with social service agencies and other churches will be actively encouraged in supporting the healing process of individuals.

Appendix A:

Diocesan Review Board for the Protection of Children and Youth

Mandate for the Diocesan Child Protection Advisory Board

In accord with the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People approved by the Bishops of the United States, the Diocese of Providence has established a Diocesan Child Protection Advisory Board. The focus of the Advisory Board is on every person who has been the victim of sexual abuse as a minor by anyone acting in the name of the Church, whether the abuse was recent or occurred many years ago. The mandate of the board is to:

  • Review diocesan policies and procedures and recommend ways in which they can be strengthened, improved or modified.
  • Evaluate the implementation of the policies throughout the diocese and its ministries in order to deal consistently and fairly with both victims and those who are accused.
  • Assist in developing appropriate mechanisms to ensure compliance with the policies.
  • Assess the effectiveness of victim assistance efforts by the Diocese and make recommendations for improvement.
  • Review and advice on standards of conduct for those in positions of trust and on education, training and outreach programs for clergy, staff, educators and others, as well as safe environment programs for children and young people.

Diocesan Advisory Board for the Protection of Children and Young People

Dennis J. Roberts II, Esq.
Former Attorney General/ Law offices of Dennis J. Roberts II

Ms. Patricia Martinez
Executive Director, Center for Family Support & Student Development
Central Falls School Department

Major Michael Quinn (ret.)
Director, Campus Safety & Security
Johnson & Wales University

The Honorable Ms. Laureen D’Ambra
Associate Judge, RI Family Court

Rev. John Unsworth, Pastor
St. Bernard Parish, Wickford

Ms. Caryl Frink
Episcopal Diocese on R.I.

Rabbi Marc Jagolinzer
Temple Shalom, Middletown


Others Who Attend Regularly

Most Rev. Thomas J. Tobin
Bishop of Providence

Most Rev. Robert C. Evans
Auxiliary Bishop of Providence

Rev. Msgr. Albert A. Kenney
Moderator of the Curia

Rev. Timothy D. Reilly

Ms. Paula J. Loud
Director, Office of Outreach & Prevention

Diocesan Contact Persons

Kevin O’Brien (ret.)
Director, Office of Compliance

Ms. Paula J. Loud
Director, Office of Outreach & Prevention


Safe Environment Training PowerPoints