Clergy privilege can often be complex. Learn more about how to handle the intersection between clergy privilege and clergy’s role as a mandated reporter of child abuse.
When the organization has to let someone go for misconduct, and there is a scandal, what should it say? How much is too much? What are possible consequences?
If your organization is in the United States or other countries with well-established child abuse reporting laws, then reporting is simple. If the alleged abuse happened in a country where reporting protocol is not established—or you have a multijurisdictional nightmare—or abuse that is historic—it may not be clear whether and how to report.
One of the hardest things your church may ever deal with is an allegation of child sexual abuse. These allegations create responsibilities for reporting to law enforcement, for ministering to people who are hurt, evaluating child safety procedures that are in place, interacting with media, dealing with offenders, considering legal issues, and other tough challenges.
A good investigation requires many complex skills that include managing the investigation, doing interviews, and making credibility determinations. A credibility determination requires the investigative team to analyze the facts and decide the truth of the matter, sometimes with conflicting evidence. The investigation must be done skillfully and must consider legal issues.
Allegations about a former employee could be completely new, or they may revisit allegations that were raised earlier. The principles that apply to other investigations are still used, though in a slightly different way...
In our hypothetical, Tom and Sally reached out and made allegations to the mission leader. It seems fairly obvious this should have triggered an investigation. But we probably want to spend more time thinking about how investigations get started. When should you investigate? A number of situations may call for an investigation.
Therapeutic processes and legal processes are different. Certain things are appropriate in the therapeutic process that are not acceptable in a legal process. Absolute factual accuracy is not the primary goal of therapy. In the world of an investigation, with livelihood and organizational survival on the line, impartial factual accuracy is very important.
A Catholic priest in the Archdiocese of St. Louis, Rev. Jiang, was accused of sexually abusing a child. He denied having done it. The criminal case against Rev. Jiang was voluntarily dismissed by the prosecutor.
Failing in the child protection arena has two possible worst-case outcomes for organizations. You need to get these policies right the first time. Organizations need to work on their child protection policies.
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