According to the attorney general’s press release, the agreement mandates that for sexual abuse complaints, the investigation must be completed within 45 days of the “appointment.”
“The Diocese’s Charter-mandated lay review board will now be required to provide its recommendations for each case it investigates in writing,” the attorney general’s press release said.
“The Diocese will also be required to make public disclosures throughout the process, including posting the lay review board’s recommendation on its website, publicly disclosing names of accused clergy who are suspended pending investigations, and reporting all substantiated complaints. The Diocese will also refer all complaints it receives to law enforcement and will cooperate with any investigations.”
In the diocese’s press release, it says that most of the agreements made are already diocesan policy, per the U.S. bishops’ 2002 Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.
“In choosing to defend the perpetrators of sexual abuse instead of defending the most vulnerable, the Buffalo Diocese and its leaders breached parishioners’ trust and caused many a crisis of faith. As a result of this action, the Buffalo Diocese will now begin a much-needed era of independent oversight and accountability, and my office will continue to do everything in its power to restore trust and transparency for the future. No individual or entity is above the law, and those who violate it in New York state will always be held accountable,” James’ statement said.
“Today’s agreement memorializes the Diocese’s utmost commitment to ensuring that all young people and other vulnerable persons are safe and never at risk of abuse of any kind by a member of the clergy, diocesan employee, volunteer, or member of a religious order serving in the Diocese of Buffalo,” Fisher said in a letter to the diocesan faithful.
“As Bishop of the Diocese of Buffalo, I will continue to reiterate that there is zero tolerance for any act of sexual abuse or harassment by a bishop, priest, deacon, lay employee or volunteer toward a young person or adult. Such acts are an affront to who and what we claim to be as Christians and as Catholics,” he said.
“Moreover, I will continue to insist on the most rigorous monitoring program with regard to those removed from ministry due to credible allegations of sexual abuse, and the strict adherence to the Code of Conduct for priests, deacons, pastoral ministers, administrators, staff and volunteers, and to our well-defined policies and procedures to ensure a safe environment for all,” Fisher wrote.
A video of Bishop Fisher’s statement can be seen below:
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