Seven Lessons from Archdiocese Criminal Prosecution
The State of Minnesota filed criminal charges against the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. The charge was six counts of a gross misdemeanor criminal complaint, for putting children at risk in various ways. What lessons should organizations gather from this criminal complaint?
On June 3, 2015, the State of Minnesota filed criminal charges against the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis—against the actual church corporation. The charge was six counts of a gross misdemeanor criminal complaint, for putting children at risk in various ways. The probable-cause statement consists of nearly 40 pages of description of inadequate supervision of priests with known problems, and some of the shocking things the priests did. In addition, the Archdiocese was accused of not adequately carrying out its own policies, training, and responses to allegations. See the news stories in the Star Tribune and LA Times.
While it may not be clear for some time to come which allegations are true, what reminders should organizations gather from this criminal complaint?
- Have adequate policies and training in place to protect children.
- If certain persons in the organization do not cooperate with these policies and training, deal with those persons rather than ignoring them.
- Don’t overlook misconduct that could be related to sexual abuse, like substance abuse or cruising for sexual encounters.
- If there are allegations that minors are being abused, or anyone is being sexually assaulted, address them promptly.
- Have good communication within the organization so that responsible people are informed—failure of communication could hurt children and also lead to criminal charges.
- Protect children, not personnel who are abusing their power.
- Devote enough organizational resources to make child protection a matter of priority right up to the top level.
Because of the generality of the information on this site, it may not apply to a given place, time, or set of facts. It is not intended to be legal advice, and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations