Counselor for Maine diocese disciplined for ethics violations
(For Immediate Release May 10, 2023)
A licensed social worker who remains working with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland, Maine, was disciplined recently by a state regulatory board for ethics violations. Carolyn Bloom, an "independent" clinician who has worked for the Diocese for twenty years, was censured and agreed to pay for and participate in a year-long supervision program for her interactions with clergy abuse survivor Melissa Kearns.
Melissa filed a complaint with the Diocese in 2020, saying that she was forced into a sexual relationship with Fr. Anthony Cipolle. Although she was ineligible for Diocesan therapy services because she was an adult at the time of the abuse, Melissa received a text message from Bloom. Bloom identified herself as a "clinical social worker who works for the Catholic diocese to help abuse victims." The communication between the two women continued for several months, which led Melissa to believe that Bloom was her therapist, which was apparently not the case.
We urge Bishop Robert Deeley to reconsider keeping Bloom on the payroll. In addition, he should do outreach to all the victims who have contacted the Diocese during Bloom's tenure, begging anyone who may have been similarly harmed to come forward. We also call on him to publicly apologize to Melissa and to anyone else Bloom may have harmed.
The Diocese of Portland pays Bloom a monthly stipend to coordinate counseling and treatment for individuals who accuse Diocesan workers of child sex abuse. Melissa filed a complaint against Bloom with the State Board of Social Worker Licensure in December of 2022, after her attorney requested documents of their sessions and was told by Bloom that none existed because Melissa was not a client.
It is astonishing us to think that any person who is working through trauma, regardless of how old they were when it occurred, could be treated like this by those in the Diocese who are supposed to be helping victims to heal. Our hearts go out to Melissa. We can only imagine the pain that this additional betrayal must have caused. We hope that the disciplinary action by the State of Maine provides her with some sense of vindication.
We continue to urge anyone who was hurt in the Diocese of Portland to speak up and begin healing. However, we echo Melissa's advice to survivors: report first to a truly independent third party, such as law enforcement or support groups like ours.
CONTACT: Mike McDonnell, SNAP Communications ([email protected], 267-261-0578) Zach Hiner, Executive Director ([email protected], 517-974-9009) Shaun Dougherty, SNAP Board President ([email protected], 814-341-8386)
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 35 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)