Judge hopes agreement inspires long-term change

| July 11, 2017 | 0 Comments

The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis’ director and deputy director for Safe Environment and Ministerial Standards appeared in Ramsey County court July 10 to provide Judge Teresa Warner with a status report on the archdiocese’s compliance efforts to ensure safe environments for children.

Recognizing the progress made over the past 18 months, Warner said it was “impressive” that every parish and school in the archdiocese submitted a spring audit report detailing efforts to comply with the archdiocese’s child protection protocols, because it showed that the archdiocese is taking seriously its settlement agreement with Ramsey County.

“What this tells me is that the settlement agreement isn’t just a document that got put on the shelf. It’s an active agreement, and that’s the expectation,” she said.

The hearing marked 18 months since the archdiocese and Ramsey County entered into a landmark agreement establishing protocols and standards to ensure a safe environment for children. During the hearing, archdiocesan officials submitted a report showing the archdiocese remains in compliance with that agreement. Warner accepted the report, which outlines the archdiocese’s efforts in the past six months to implement and enforce its safe environment standards and procedures.

Tim O’Malley and Janell Rasmussen, director and deputy director, respectively, of Ministerial Standards and Safe Environment for the archdiocese, explained several of the report’s key elements, including the annual parish and school audits, as well as preparations for an external audit of the archdiocese’s protocols that is expected to be conducted in August by StoneBridge Business Partners, a firm based in Rochester, New York. O’Malley and Rasmussen emphasized that compliance with the archdiocese’s safe environment policies is an ongoing process.

O’Malley noted the archdiocese’s continued cooperation with law enforcement. He explained that while the archdiocese reports every credible allegation of child sexual abuse to law enforcement, he also informs Ramsey County officials, even if the allegation falls within another county’s jurisdiction. The archdiocese has made five abuse allegation notifications in the past six months. None involved clergy. Assistant County Attorney Thomas Ring told Warner that the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office and the archdiocese “continue to work well together,” and he expects that relationship to continue.

Warner said the settlement agreement’s goal is to change the institutional culture within the archdiocese. “[A] lot of what’s being done … is being done to comply with the settlement agreement, but the hope is that the culture changes, and it’s done not for the settlement agreement, but for the kids,” she said.

After the hearing, O’Malley emphasized that “the active involvement of many” has led to the progress Warner described as impressive. “We all as an archdiocese have worked hard to make sure children are safe. That work is a team effort,” he said. “The priests, principals, business administrators, safe environment coordinators, teachers, coaches, staff, and volunteers at each of the parishes and schools — along with quite a number of victims/survivors who continue to actively help us improve — deserve all the credit. They are on the front line in making sure we are doing everything we can to protect our kids.”

As part of the agreement, the archdiocese submits a report to the court every six months. This is the archdiocese’s third report. It is posted to the Ministerial Standards and Safe Environment website, safe-environment.archspm.org. The next hearing is scheduled for Jan. 5, 2018.

Tags: , ,

Category: Local News