Church Officials in Pittsburgh Create “Third-Party Reporting” System to Handle Allegations of Abuse, SNAP Responds
Church officials from the Diocese of Pittsburgh today announced the creation of a new system to handle “questions related to suspected wrongdoing in parishes, schools or diocesan offices.” Rather than create new systems for handling allegations, however, we believe that people should instead be encouraged to make reports to law enforcement.
In announcing the EthicsPoint system today, Church officials are touting the creation of yet another church-run structure to handle reports of wrongdoing. But this announcement comes at a time when parishioners and the public are demanding less church involvement in investigations, not more.
We recognize that in their announcement, church officials say that they route all allegations of abuse to police and will only internally investigate allegations “that would not be the purview of investigations by law enforcement or other civil authorities.” But we believe it should be police and prosecutors who determine what allegations will be in their purview, not a contractor hired by local church officials. And more to the point, when faced with an allegation known to be outside the criminal statute of limitations, will it be routed to police or deemed to “not be in their purview?”
The fact is, over the years, internal church systems and procedures have not been enough to stop either cases of abuse or to stop church officials from ignoring, minimizing, or covering-up cases of abuse. And this system, administered by a third-party or not, will still ultimately route allegations of wrongdoing by church officials to other church officials.
We hope that victims, witnesses, and whistleblowers in the public will make sure to report any allegations of wrongdoing to police instead of this third-party system. And we hope church officials will encourage people to report to secular experts in law enforcement instead of this third-party system.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)