Letter from the Director - July 19, 2006

Office of Child Advocacy, Implementation and Oversight
Letter from the Director

Reporting Federal Crimes - Protecting Children from Abuse and Exploitation
Power point presentation for Full Training 
Powerpoint presentation for Abridged Training 

July 19, 2006

To: All Parish CAP Teams, Principals

Info To: Pastors/Administrators, Religious Education Leadership, Parish Pastoral Staffs

From: Deacon Tony Rizzuto

Subject: Reporting Federal Crimes Against Children and Other Matters

Greetings from the Office of Child Advocacy, Implementation and Oversight. I hope you are all having a good summer and finding some time to get away for a period of rest and relaxation.

By means of this memo, we want to advise you of three matters: (1) a new reporting protocol regarding federal crimes affecting children; (2) a change in the point of contact within the Archdiocese for reports under State law regarding suspected child abuse by clergy, employees or volunteers; and (3) a request that, going forward, copies of all 51A reports be forwarded to the Archdiocese (after notification to the State DSS) even if they do not relate to clergy, employees or volunteers (for example 51A reports involving allegations of child abuse by a family member).

1.  New Training Materials on Federal Criminal Laws:

As part of the RCAB’s agreement with the United States Attorney’s Office, we have developed the enclosed briefing materials (in both an abbreviated and a comprehensive form) regarding the reporting of any suspected violations of federal criminal laws pertaining to the sexual abuse or exploitation of children. This material is a supplement to your prior training on reporting suspected child abuse and neglect to the Massachusetts Department of Social Services (via an immediate phone call to 617-748-2000, and the filing of a written 51A Abuse and Neglect Report with DSS within 48 hours). The RCAB has agreed with the United States Attorney’s Office that all CAP Team members and school principals will read these materials in lieu of attending a separate training session.

The content of the enclosed briefing material also should be included as information in future trainings for parish and school personnel. As described in the enclosed materials, categories of child abuse that may violate federal criminal laws include child pornography, transporting children across state lines for sexual purposes, and exposing minor children to obscene material. As you will see in the briefing materials, the Archdiocese has agreed to report suspected violations of these laws to the U.S. Attorney’s Office and to the FBI. Any conduct that falls under the categories of federal crime (as listed above and described in more detail in the briefing material) should be reported to Father John Connolly, Special Assistant to the Cardinal, at the phone number provided below. Father Connolly will then facilitate the report to Federal authorities. It is likely that any such conduct will also trigger existing state law reporting requirements under state law.

You may utilize the abbreviated version of the briefing in your training of any new clergy, employees and volunteers, but you should also make the more comprehensive briefing available to all trainees to provide more detailed information. After you have completed your review of these materials, please contact the Office of Child Advocacy, Implementation and Oversight if you have any questions about the content of this briefing.

2.  Change in Contact Person Within the Archdiocese as to State Reports

  • Under present Archdiocesan Policies and Massachusetts law, and as you were trained previously, anyone who has a reasonable cause to suspect that a child is being abused or neglected must immediately make an oral report to DSS. A written report must then be made to DSS within 48 hours. This does not change.
  • Under our present Policies, if the alleged perpetrator is a member of the clergy, or is a parish/school employee or volunteer, the reporter also is asked to call and notify the Office of the Secretary for Ministerial Personnel.
  • What changes, effective immediately, is that calls to the Archdiocese regarding clergy, parish/school employee or volunteers should be made directly to Fr. John Connolly, Special Assistant to the Cardinal - at the phone number provided below. In effect, the process does not change, only the person to whom the call is being placed. Father Connolly will be the central reporting point within the Archdiocese for reports of violations of state or federal law.

3.  Creation of Baseline Data

Finally, the Office of Child Advocacy is also trying to collect more complete data on the nature and types of all the abuse and neglect reports being filed with DSS by the parishes and schools, not just those pertaining to clergy, or parish/school employees or volunteers. In order to do this, we ask that you include a new requirement in your training that any person making any report to DSS also mail or fax a copy of the 51A Abuse and Neglect Report to Fr. Connolly, Special Assistant to the Cardinal at the Pastoral Center (Fr. John Connolly, 66 Brooks Drive, Braintree, MA, 02184, Fax: 617-782-8358). For example, when Archdiocesan school or parish personnel file a 51A report related to alleged abuse of children at the hands of a family member, that also should be forwarded to the Archdiocese. This data will help us to evaluate the effectiveness and quality of our efforts to protect children.

Thank you for your continued support of the Archdiocese’s safe environment and child abuse prevention efforts. As I have said many times before, the best tools against child abuse are prevention and early detection and you are a critical part of that ongoing effort. Children’s lives are being saved. Asking God’s continued blessings on you, your families, and all our children, I am

Sincerely Yours in Christ,

Deacon Anthony P. Rizzuto