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Audit shows Anchorage Archdiocese on track fighting abuse

By Associated Press, Thursday, August 21, 2003

The Archdiocese of Anchorage has done a good job of reaching out to victims of sexual abuse but needs to work harder to ensure that youths feel safe in the church, according to preliminary findings of an audit this month.

Auditors are visiting dioceses nationwide to ensure church officials are implementing sexual abuse policies.

Archbishop Roger Schwietz said Wednesday that auditors met with him last week after a review of the archdiocese's policies, practices and procedures and gave him their preliminary recommendations.

Auditors recommended the archdiocese start programs to train people working with youths about sexual abuse, professional boundaries and how to recognize symptoms of abuse, Schwietz said. Auditors also told him the archdiocese needs to revise its written policy on issues of sexual abuse.

The archdiocese also needs to run background checks on everyone who has volunteered or done youth work in the past, not just for new hires, auditors said.

They commended Schwietz for personally going to parishes to talk about sexual abuse issues, he said. They also approved of a commission investigating internal documents for past claims of abuse, the appointment of a victim's assistance coordinator and the use of a local rape crisis center to help victims.

Schwietz said none of the recommendations came as a surprise.

"It was an affirmation of what we needed to do," he said. "We wanted to hear from the auditors to see if we were on track with what we thought the charter demanded of us."

Schwietz said he plans to hire someone this fall to help the archdiocese implement the recommendations.

The final audit is expected to be completed in six to eight weeks.


Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests