Roman Catholic Diocese of Covington Statement on Abuse File Review

Roman Catholic Diocese of Covington
Statement on Abuse File Review
July 31, 2020

The Diocese of Covington today is releasing the names of priests, religious, deacons and lay employees who have served in our Diocese against whom one or more allegations of sexual abuse of a minor have been substantiated.

The list is the product of a comprehensive and independent review of thousands of diocesan records dating back to 1950. Two former FBI agents were given free rein to review all diocesan records, including Chancery files, archival files, priest personnel files, and Safe Environment files. The former FBI agents have a combined 50 years of investigative experience.

In October, 2019, Bishop Roger Foys and the Diocesan Review Board initiated the review as a way to continue to assure the people of the Diocese of Covington, as well as our priests and other Diocesan personnel, that the Diocese has, as far as is humanly possible, addressed the scourge of sexual abuse of minors by its priests, religious and lay employees.

Inclusion on this list does not necessarily indicate that an accused priest, religious, deacon or lay employee has been found guilty of a crime or liable for any civil claim. The definition of “substantiated allegation” that guided the file review is as follows:

An allegation of sexual abuse of a minor is deemed substantiated when there is probable cause for believing the claim is true. The following may be considered as evidence of probable cause:

1) admission of guilt by the accused;
2) guilty finding rendered by a court;
3) finding rendered by an investigative process shows cause for believing the allegation is true on an objective basis;
4) the accused, when presented with the allegation and afforded a reasonable opportunity to respond, declined to address the allegation; or
5) the Special Masters appointed by the Court in the class action litigation against the Diocese made a monetary award from the class settlement fund based on a sworn claim form alleging one or more incidents of sexual abuse of a minor by the accused, and any other evidence that was submitted on behalf of the claimant.

The review process that has culminated in this list is part of the Diocese’s ongoing commitment to create a Safe Environment and to ensure that all allegations of child sexual abuse by priests, religious and lay employees over the last 70 years have been properly identified and reported. The review process is the natural outgrowth of two significant developments that have transpired during the last eighteen (18) years: significant reforms in the U.S. Catholic Church beginning in 2002 and the Diocese’s involvement in class action litigation from 2003-2009.

U.S. Church Reforms (2002)

In 2002, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops instituted the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People (the “Dallas Charter”)[1] The Dallas Charter set forth reforms for U.S. dioceses to follow in response to the sexual abuse crisis. The reforms fall under four categories:

1. Promote healing and reconciliation with victims/survivors of sexual abuse of minors.
2. Ensure an effective response to allegations of sexual abuse of minors.
3. Ensure accountability of the response to sexual abuse of minors.
4. Protect the faithful in the future.

The Diocese acted promptly to implement the Dallas Charter and compliance with the Charter remains a priority. Some highlights follow.

To promote healing and reconciliation, Bishop Foys has met individually with over 170 survivors since 2002, and he will meet with any survivors requesting a meeting.

In addition, the Diocese has established a Victim Assistance Coordinator to assist with the immediate pastoral care of survivors. The Diocese has established a Diocesan Review Board (“DRB”), which is comprised of mostly lay people not in the employ of the Diocese. The DRB advises the Bishop “in his assessment of allegations of sexual abuse of minors and in his determination of a cleric’s suitability for ministry.” (Dallas Charter, Art. 2). The DRB meets regularly.

Since 2002, in response to each and every complaint of sexual abuse of a minor received, the Diocese has offered paid professional counseling to the individual making the complaint. These offers of counseling have been made for cases of abuse whenever alleged to have occurred and regardless of whether the complaint has been substantiated.

To ensure an effective response, upon receiving an allegation of minor sexual abuse, the Diocese has immediately reported the allegation to appropriate civil authorities (typically the Commonwealth Attorney in the county in which the abuse is alleged to have occurred). Again, such reporting has been undertaken even for allegations of abuse in the distant past and regardless of whether the allegation has been substantiated.

Consistent with the Dallas Charter, when an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor has been received, a preliminary investigation is conducted promptly and objectively. If the complaint involves an active priest, precautionary measures are implemented (e.g., withdrawal of the accused from ministry or restricting residence), pending the outcome of the investigation.

Most importantly, a policy of zero tolerance is in effect. “[F]or even a single act of sexual abuse of a minor — whenever it occurred — which is admitted or established after an appropriate process in accord with canon law, the offending priest or deacon is to be permanently removed from ministry [“faculties removed”] and, if warranted, dismissed from the clerical state [“laicized”].” (Dallas Charter, Art. 5).

To ensure accountability, the Diocese submits to regular audits to ensure compliance with the Dallas Charter. These audits are conducted by an outside team of auditors at the direction of the National Review Board, which was established in 2002 by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Every year, the Diocese submits a completed audit questionnaire to the auditors, and an audit team periodically visits the Diocese for an intensive on-site audit. Since 2002, the Diocese has submitted to nine (9) on-site audits. Every audit has demonstrated the Diocese’s continued compliance with the Dallas Charter.

To protect the faithful, the Diocese has implemented mandatory background checks for all priests, deacons, staff and volunteers who work with children. Safe Environment policies, protocols and a code of conduct have been developed and are regularly updated.[2]

The Diocese’s Safe Environment Office – through the VIRTUS program – performs training and background checks of all priests, deacons, seminarians, employees and volunteers working in the Curia, parishes, schools and Catholic organizations. From 2003 to the present, 33,145 persons have completed the VIRTUS program. Additionally, children in Catholic schools and parish schools of religion are trained on how to identify and report inappropriate behavior by adults.

Most recently, the Catholic Bishop Abuse Reporting Service has been established to receive reports of sexual abuse and related misconduct by bishops and to relay those reports to proper Church authorities.[3] A link to the Catholic Bishop Abuse Reporting Service is available on the diocesan Safe Environment web page.

The Class Action (2003-2009)

In 2003, a lawsuit brought on behalf of all persons who had been sexually abused as a minor by a priest, religious, deacon or lay employee of the Diocese of Covington was certified by the Boone County Circuit Court as a class action. The class action was administered by the Court and scrutinized in a very public process.

In January 2006, after notice and a public hearing to determine whether a proposed settlement reached on behalf of the Class was “fair, reasonable, and adequate,” the settlement received final approval from the Court. The class settlement was open to anyone who had been sexually abused as a minor by a priest, religious or lay employee of the Diocese or any Diocesan parish or institution. For months following final approval of the settlement, media outlets and newspapers across the country, including the diocesan newspaper (the Messenger), published notice of the class settlement and instructions on what abuse victims needed to do to file a claim for compensation from the class settlement fund.

Over a period of three and a half years, all claims were reviewed by court-appointed Special Masters and awards totaling $81,231,500 were made from the Class Settlement Fund. The Special Masters made awards to claimants when they determined that a claim was supported by sufficient credible evidence to conclude that the abuse more likely than not occurred. Claimants were required to submit a sworn claim form, but not otherwise required to substantiate their claims. Awards were made in cases involving unknown priests and unnamed nuns and in cases where the only supporting evidence was the claimant’s sworn claim form.

On May 21, 2009, the court-appointed Settlement Master, retired federal district judge Thomas Lambros, filed a report with the Kentucky Attorney General (the “Lambros Report”). The Lambros Report consisted of an executive summary of the “credible incidents of sexual abuse” that were deemed established as to each abuser. The Kentucky Court of Appeals had earlier ruled that the Lambros Report need not include “deceased priests or employees of the Diocese.” Thus, the Lambros Report detailed abuse by individuals then living, and it was submitted to the Attorney General “for distribution to the appropriate commonwealth attorneys.”[4]

The Settlement Master filed his final report to the Court on May 27, 2009. The report noted that 400 claims had been processed. One additional claim was received and processed by the Special Masters after the final report was submitted, in accordance with the procedures approved by the Court.

On May 28, 2009, after finding that “the Diocese of Covington and Bishop Foys have fulfilled all of their obligations under their settlement agreement with the Doe Class and this Court’s orders regarding the class settlement and its administration,” the Court entered a final order of dismissal.

Compilation of the List

The file reviewers experienced varying degrees of difficulty in determining whether an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor has been substantiated. Some abusers had multiple victims and claims against them were relatively easy to substantiate. Other allegations were much more difficult to reliably assess, due to the passage of time, conflicting evidence, lack of evidence, absence of other allegations or claims against the accused, or one or more significant limiting factors.

Over the years, the Diocese has received some complaints of sexual abuse of minors that fall into the latter category. The Special Masters in the class action denied 148 claims (of the 400 filed) as not sufficiently credible to support an award or as outside the scope of the class.[5] Some claims the Special Masters considered credible enough to merit a monetary award were not deemed substantiated.

Current Diocesan Procedures

Anyone who has experienced sexual misconduct by a cleric, employee, religious or volunteer of the Diocese of Covington is asked to contact Ms. Margaret Schack, Diocesan Victim Assistance Coordinator at (859) 392-1515. Professional assistance and pastoral support will be provided with confidentiality and respect. The Victim Assistance Coordinator is required to report allegations of sexual abuse of a minor to civil authorities. A victim may report allegations of sexual abuse directly to civil authorities as follows.

Reporting CURRENT abuse of MINORS or VULNERABLE ADULTS to the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, Division of Protection and Permanency, (877) 597-2331.

Boone County (859) 371-8832 Harrison County (859) 234-3884
Bracken County (606) 735-2195 Kenton County (859) 292-6340
Campbell County (859) 292-6733 Lewis County (606) 796-2981
Carroll County (502) 732-6681 Mason County (606) 564-6818
Fleming County (606) 845-2381 Owen County (502) 484-3937
Gallatin County (859) 567-7381 Pendleton County (859) 654-3381
Grant County (859) 824-4471 Robertson County (859) 724-5413

Reporting ADULTS who were abused as MINORS to the
Commonwealth Attorney.

Boone County (859) 586-1723 Harrison County (859) 235-0387
Bracken County (606) 564-4304 Kenton County (859) 292-6580
Campbell County (859) 292-6490 Lewis County (606) 473-7978
Carroll County (502) 732-6688 Mason County (606) 564-4304
Fleming County (606) 564-4304 Owen County (502) 732-6688
Gallatin County (859) 586-1723 Pendleton County (859) 235-0387
Grant County (859) 732-6688 Robertson County (859) 235-0387

It is preferable that you call the county in which the abuse allegedly occurred.

Additional resources:

Kentucky Child Abuse Hotline
1-800-752-6200
National Child Abuse Hotline
1-800-422-4453
Indiana Child Abuse Hotline
1-800-800-5556
Kentucky Sex Offender Registry
http://kspsor.state.ky.us/
Ohio Child Abuse Hotline
1-855-642-4453

1 The Dallas Charter was updated in 2005, 2011 and 2018. A copy may be found at www.usccb.org
2 The Diocese’s booklet entitled “Creating a Safe Environment, Policies and Procedures for Addressing Sexual Misconduct” may be found at www.covdio.org.
3 More information can be found at ReportBishopAbuse.org.
4 Since May 2009, the Diocese has received no claims of present day sexual abuse against a minor by a priest.
5 The class action process provided that a claimant could appeal the Special Masters’ decision to an Appeal Master and, further, to the Circuit Court.

Diocese of Covington releases requirements, guidelines for opening of schools

Messenger Staff Report

After months of intense discernment and discussion the Diocese of Covington Department of Catholic Schools has released information on how the nine Catholic high schools and 30 elementary schools and pre-schools will open next month. The 13-page document entitled “COVID-19 Return to School Requirements” was e-mailed to all priests and principals July 23 and is available online here.

The document contains requirements that must be implemented and guidelines that share best practices on ways to implement the requirements. Requirements include a daily health self-assessment of each employee, teacher and student prior to coming to school, temperature checks upon arrival, the wearing of face coverings in common areas, marking safe social distance of six feet in hallways and classrooms and increased hygiene and sanitization. Guidelines include staggering lunches and recesses to accommodate social distancing and extending dismissal to avoid students and parents congregating at the end of the day.

“We share the common value of educating our students in a safe and faith-filled community,” said Mike Clines, superintendent of schools. “I am confident that by working together we will be able to achieve that goal even during this health crisis. Discipline and cooperation are hallmarks of a Catholic school community. With the grace of God, I am confident that our school communities will come together to be committed guardians of each other by implementing these requirements in an atmosphere of discipline, cooperation and Christian love.”

A sub-committee led by Mr. Clines and Kendra McGuire, associate superintendent of Catholic Schools, and made up of priests, Curia members, principals, medical doctors and attorneys helped to create the COVID-19 Return to School Requirements document. The document is based on the most up-to-date information from various sources including, but not limited to, the Kentucky Department of Health, the Kentucky Department of Education, and the Centers for Disease Control, along with the guidance of the Diocesan Coronavirus Taskforce.

“I thank everyone who has helped develop the COVID-19 Return to School Requirements,” said Mrs. McGuire. “As an administrator and parent I share the concerns of many of our families. I am grateful that our school families have chosen to entrust their child’s academic and spiritual education to our Catholic school system and look forward to a safe and blessed school year.”

As new information is received from health and government officials, there may be updates to these regulations that will be communicated following a review from the task force.

Start of schools delayed until August 17

Catholic schools in the Diocese of Covington are postponing the start of in-person instruction by one week. Due to increasing cases of COVID-19, Governor Andy Beshear requested, July 27, that all Kentucky schools delay the start of in-person instruction until, on or after August 17. Catholic schools in the diocese were scheduled to open the week of August 10.

“We are going to honor Governor Beshear’s recommendation and are postponing the school start dates by one week,” said Mike Clines, superintendent of Catholic schools. “Our number one priority is the health and education of our students. Our principals, faculties and staffs have been working hard and are prepared to welcome students back in the classroom. I invite everyone to join us in making the health and education of our children a priority by following the best practices that have been identified to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.”

Who is my neighbor? — A lesson from ‘The Twilight Zone’

By David Cooley.

I continue to be amazed by our divided nation. A wise priest once told me that you can always see where the devil is hard at work because of all the anxiety and division he causes. The more I pay attention the more this seems increasingly obvious. Another thing I remember from when I was young, is that the devil is the father of lies and those who care not for the truth are all too willing to participate in his evil schemes. In contrast, some signs of Christ’s work in the world are truth, unity, peace and understanding. Interesting questions to ponder each day: what seems to be more prominent in our country and in our world — division or unity? And, what role do I play in all of this?

It seems like no one can agree on anything anymore, even some basic concepts like the existence of good and evil, the fact that some things are simply right and some things are simply wrong, and the dignity and value of every single human life. It would also be nice if we could at least agree that people have a right to know what’s going on in the world without being constantly manipulated by hidden agendas. It saddens me when I see friends turn on each other because they have a difference of opinion on an issue and all the roads that lead to a civilized and reasonable conversation are closed until further notice. It seems like, in the year 2020, the one thing we have all been united in, so far at least, is defeat.

One of my favorite television shows of all time is “The Twilight Zone.” It’s an old show (from the late 1950s, early 60s), but, in my humble opinion, there was something about the quality of the program and the atmosphere that will never be matched. I’m sure part of it is nostalgia — I can remember staying up late to watch the old reruns, while I was sure everyone else in the house and in the neighborhood was sleeping. I can still hear the cool, confident voice of the host, Rod Serling, as he appeared in stark black-and-white and prepared me for another ride of twist-and-turns with an unnerving lesson that “things aren’t always as they appear.” Aside from my Catholic faith, there is probably nothing that has had a larger impact on how I see the world than that show. There are many great episodes from that other dimension that are more than worthy for reflection, but one that I come back to on almost an annual basis is a disturbing little tale called “The Monsters are Due on Maple Street.”

At the close of the episode, aliens observe from a safe distance as a small, lovely town full of everyday people descends into chaos. The intelligent beings from somewhere else have discovered that there is no need to attack and invade the people of earth. Instead they pick one town at a time, cut off its power, scare the people a little with visual tricks, and leave them alone with each other and their increasing paranoia. In a short time, panic sets in and the citizens turn on one another, searching for scapegoats to blame and kill. As it turns out, the monsters of the title are not the visitors from another planet, but the people that already lived together on Maple Street. Those that were supposed to be neighbors.

It’s chilling sometimes, in our own dimension, how easily neighbor can be turned against neighbor. Misunderstandings and fear nurtured by irrationality can quickly turn into harsh words, angry mobs and violence. Perhaps the decision to be a neighbor or a monster is one that we make just about every day. It’s not always about the big decisions; more often than not it’s probably in the little choices we make — do we let our emotions get the best of us? Do we put our needs, wants and safety before others? Do we put others down and gossip to make ourselves feel better? Do we treat people differently based on their race or social status? How do we act when we are on the internet? And so on.

While it was written decades ago, this episode from the very first season of The Twilight Zone — and virtually every episode of its five-year run — is eerily relevant for us today. On the other hand, if there was ever a time that we needed aliens to intervene in order to get us to turn on each other, that time is long past. In our world of social distancing and social media, it seems like we are always looking for the next fight. We tend to see those who are different than us and those that disagree with us not as potential friends with whom we can talk things out, but as something completely other. There is a great danger in living this way; and no one on either side of the political spectrum is immune to it. Just like with everything else, we have to begin by taking a good, hard look at ourselves.

I’ll leave you with these chilling words said by Rod Serling — a brilliant, Jewish man, by the way — at the end of that classic episode:

“The tools of conquest do not necessarily come with bombs and explosions and fallout. There are weapons that are simply thoughts, attitudes, prejudices to be found only in the minds of men. For the record, prejudices can kill, and suspicion can destroy, and a thoughtless frightened search for a scapegoat has a fallout all of its own for the children, and the children yet unborn. And the pity of it is, these things cannot be confined to the Twilight Zone.”

David Cooley is co-director and office manager of the Office of Catechesis and Evangelization.

Masks

COVID-19: A healthcare issue, say local experts with recommendations

Laura Keener, Editor.

As discussions continue about the best way to provide a safe community — especially school communities — amid the COVID-19 pandemic, administrators, teachers and parents can find themselves in a jungle of confusing, conflicting and oftentimes incorrect information. To help weed out fact from fiction, the Messenger turned to the doctors of the Diocese of Covington’s own St. Elizabeth Healthcare.

Dr. Holly Danneman, St. Elizabeth Healthcare Family Medicine Residency, and Dr. Chanti Flanagan, hospitalist, director of Hospital Medicine, and chairman of Medicine, St. Elizabeth Healthcare, answered questions about what has been learned about the COVID-19 virus since March (when the virus was first reported in Kentucky) and some simple, common sense ways — based on science — to help keep communities safe and operating.

Both doctors agreed that the COVID-19 pandemic is a health care issue and encourage people — especially parents — to be looking for accurate information based on science from their trusted healthcare professionals.

“People’s unwillingness to accept this as a health issue and not a political issue could potentially affect our ability to get our children back in the classroom and decrease transmission,” said Dr. Danneman.

For both doctors, their commitment and interest in healthy families and communities is not just clinical. In addition to being doctors, Dr. Flanagan and Dr. Danneman are also wives and mothers.

“I’m a wife, a mother and a doctor, those are my priorities,” said Dr. Danneman. “As a parent, I want desperately for my children to get back to school for lots of reasons. First, they need that education from their teachers. People are also saying that the mental health of our children is important and they need to be back at school and playing athletics and I absolutely agree. But we also have to keep in mind that in order to be able to do so and to do so safely, we are going to have to follow a few safety measures. These are small sacrifices on our part to allow for all the things we want for our community and our children.”

Those safety measures, they say, are based on what healthcare professionals and scientists know about the coronavirus and its spread.

An important finding is that the virus is aerosolized, meaning that it is spread through respiratory droplets. Respiratory droplets are released simply by breathing. The rate of release increases by talking, yelling, singing, coughing and sneezing. And, Dr. Flanagan said, “We know that people who do not have symptoms can still spread the disease. Additionally, the amount of virus seems to peak three days before one would develop symptoms.”

In Kentucky, — a state praised for its efforts in mitigating the spread of the virus — as of June 29, 15,347 coronavirus cases have been reported and 560 Kentuckians have died from complications from the virus.

“I have spent countless hours preparing for how to handle the ‘what ifs,’” said Dr. Flanagan. “Along with my colleagues and associates, I have taken care of patients that died from coronavirus. And while the numbers of deaths are much lower than predicted, those that died were not just numbers. That struck me very early on in the pandemic — someone lost a loved one, a husband or wife, a mom or dad, a daughter or son, a friend.”

As serious and contagious as the coronavirus is, the good news, according to Drs. Danneman and Flanagan and other healthcare professionals and scientists, is that there are simple measures that everyone can take that have a large impact on keeping themselves and others safe while also slowing the spread of the virus.

Several of these of practices have been identified since the very beginning of the pandemic and are based on what the healthcare and scientific communities know in general about mitigating infectious diseases.
— Washing hands frequently and for 20 seconds.
— Maintaining a safe social distance of six feet apart from another person.
— Avoiding large crowds.

When it was determined that the coronavirus was indeed aerosolized, healthcare professionals also began recommending wearing masks or face coverings for adults and children over the age of 2.

“In order to keep our community healthy and slow the spread of the virus, masking in public is highly advised. Face masks, along with the other preventative measures, can help slow the spread of the virus,” said Dr. Flanagan. “The mask protects large droplets from evaporating and turning into smaller droplets that can travel farther in the air. Without the mask, especially during those three pre-symptomatic days, a person with the COVID-19 could infect several people by just speaking.”

And while the general population seems to have accepted the wisdom of the first three protocols, mask wearing has become a flashpoint that is dividing the nation and carrying with it a lot of misinformation.

Drs. Danneman and Flanagan both say that mask wearing is a safe practice for almost everyone — including children over the age of two. There may be some people with respiratory illnesses whose physician would advise not to wear a mask. Anyone concerned about their personal safety when wearing a mask should contact their physician.

“The health risk of using a mask is extremely low,” said Dr. Danneman. “We recommend people to wear masks wisely. If you are using a cloth mask wash it appropriately and if you are using a disposable surgical mask, use those responsibly as well.”

“I would go back to our surgical friends who have been wearing masks for decades to protect themselves,” said Dr. Flanagan.

“In healthcare, we as physicians have been wearing masks for hours and hours a day, for years upon years and our health is absolutely fine when it comes to wearing a mask,” Dr. Danneman said.

Dr. Flanagan said that masks are uncomfortable at times, especially at first or when it’s extremely warm. “But sometimes we have to make sacrifices for the better of our community,” she said.

Dr. Danneman agreed.

“We as Christians and Catholics are called to not just take care of ourselves or our immediate family. We have a bigger calling and what we are doing will affect people we will never see.”

Dr. Flanagan empathized with the fatigue that many people are experiencing while dealing with the demands and restrictions brought on by the virus.

“We are all tired of this. We are all beyond ready for this pandemic to be over,” she said. “If you only want to wear a mask when absolutely necessary, remember that your risk of contracting the virus (and potentially spreading to your loved ones) is dependent both on the amount of virus in the air and the duration of exposure. Simply put, situations where you are less than six feet apart for a significant amount of time in small indoor condensed areas, the wearing of a mask is strongly recommended.”

Dr. Danneman said that she is encouraged by the response of many people in their sincerity and concern for others. Some have suggested that society can best conquer the pandemic through herd immunity. With herd immunity, 70 to 90 percent of a population would need to contract the virus and recover, building up the community’s immunity so that the remaining population would be protected. The problem is, many people who contract the virus would not recover. Dr. Danneman said there are better ways for this pandemic to end.

“I truly do believe we will get back to life as normal,” said Dr. Danneman. “We will have more of an awareness about the ease of the spread of infectious disease —that will always stay with us — but we will get back to normal. It will just take some sacrifice and by sacrifice I do not mean the sacrifice of lives. I am not willing to sacrifice the lives of other people to develop herd immunity when there are other ways for us to take care of this and that involves sacrifice and responsibility.”