Bishop Renews Safe Environments

Bishop Frank J. Caggiano has reconstituted the Review Board of the Diocese of Bridgeport with the announcement of  board members and the reappointment of long-time members.

The Review Board was formed in 2002 by Bishop William E. Lori to oversee the implementation of the diocesan Sexual Misconduct Policy and to function as a consultative body to the bishop. Review Boards are required in all U.S. dioceses as a direct result of The Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People (Charter), established by the U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) in June 2002 and revised in June, 2011. It is a comprehensive set of procedures for addressing allegations of sexual abuse of minors, and it includes guidelines for reconciliation, healing, accountability and the prevention of future acts of abuse.

The Diocese of Bridgeport was found to be in full compliance with the Charter in each independent audit performed since the beginning of this process in 2003.

As part of his commitment to the protection of children and healing for victims, the bishop has also asked the Review Board to begin meeting on a quarterly basis to review overall diocesan policy, make recommendations for areas that need updating and review any cases related to child abuse by priests, deacons, religious or laity.

“We owe a great debt of gratitude to the Review Board for their efforts on behalf of Safe Environments in our diocese. The Review Board has helped us move forward in areas of prevention, early detection and evaluation of all reported cases of abuse,” said Bishop Caggiano. “This Board has played an integral and active role in ensuring that the protection of children remains of greatest importance to the Diocese of Bridgeport and its mission.”

The Review Board, which is appointed by the Bishop, is composed of at least five persons with a variety of relevant skills and experience including psychology, social work, children’s rights, law enforcement, Canon law, civil law, personnel administration, and pastoral care. The majority of the Review Board members are made up of laypersons who are not in the employ of the diocese.

Easton Psychologist Liane Pioli, Ph.D is serving as Review Board Chair. Other members include Kevin C. Kelly, Esq., State Senator, Assistant Senate Minority Leader; Rev. William M. Quinlan, administrator, Our Lady of the Assumption Church in Fairfield; Stewart Levine, M.D., St. Vincent’s Department of Psychiatry; Thomas Flynn, M.D., Retired Pediatrician and New Canaan resident; Rev. Lawrence F. Carew, pastor, Christ the King Church in Trumbull; Bill Hoey, LCSW, Vice President of Mission & Ethics, St. Vincent’s Health Services; Thomas Ayoub, M.D.,  Chief of Medical Staff at Norwalk Hospital; Vince Demaio, Captain of Operations for the New Canaan Police Department; Anne McCrory, Chancellor, Diocese of Bridgeport; and Erin Neil, director of Safe Environments and Victims Assistance Coordinator for the Diocese.

Erin Neil, director of Safe Environments for the diocese, said that more than 100,000 adults and children have completed VIRTUS training, Protecting God’s Children for Adults, and Think First & Stay Safe for Children and Youth. These programs help prevent abuse by educating adults and children about warning signs and the behaviors of child predators. The diocese has also conducted 30,000 criminal background checks on employees, volunteers and others who work with children.

The Review Board is responsible for advising the bishop in his assessment of allegations of sexual abuse of minors in his determination of a cleric’s suitability for ministry after the allegation is first reported to proper authorities. The procedures for reporting suspected abuse of a minor in the Diocese of Bridgeport include a report to the Diocesan Victim’s Assistance Coordinator and the CT Department of Children and Family Services (DCF) or the police.

Under diocesan policy, any employee or volunteer of the Diocese of Bridgeport who has actual knowledge of or has reasonable cause to suspect misconduct against a minor by any personnel of the diocese whether the abuse occurred recently or in the past, must report that information immediately to the Diocesan Victim’s Assistance reporting line. The Victim Assistance Coordinator will report all allegations involving suspected abuse of a minor allegations to DCF and/or the police.

Likewise, mandated reporters (teachers, social workers, etc.) must also directly report any incident of sexual abuse, or other forms of abuse involving a minor to the State of Connecticut Child Abuse and Neglect Careline. Anyone in the community who has reasonable cause to suspect that a child has been abused or is in danger of abuse may cause a report to the Careline.

To report suspected abuse contact: Erin Neil, LCSW, Diocesan Director of Safe Environments and Victim Assistance Coordinator: Tel: (203) 650-3265 or Michael Tintrup, LCSW, Victim Assistance Counselor, Tel: (203) 241-0987.  Mandated reporters must also directly report any incident of sexual abuse of a minor to: The State of Connecticut Child Abuse and Neglect Careline: 1 (800) 842-2288. To read the complete Safe Environment policies of the diocese and to view additional information visit the diocesan website.

To register to attend VIRTUS, Protecting God’s Children for Adults, please visit Select registration and select Bridgeport Diocese.