Lubbock Catholic Diocese Releases Sex Abuse Audit - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

1/12/04

Lubbock Catholic Diocese Releases Sex Abuse Audit

The audit was conducted last August. Currently there are no child sexual abuse cases pending against the Lubbock Diocese. On Monday Bishop Placido Rodriguez released information regarding the Lubbock Catholic Church, past scandals and a new program to ensure a safe environment for children.

"We made a commitment to be open, to be transparent and to be accountable to not only the public but above all to our Catholic faithful and this is what I have done to summarize the 20 years of our life as a diocese," says Bishop Placido Rodriguez.

In a press conference Monday, Bishop Placido Rodriguez and members of the Lubbock Diocese review board responding to allegations of sexual abuse and releasing the findings of a report published in "South Plains Catholic Supplement". The report states that child sex abuse allegations from 9 people were found to have "reasonable cause" the allegations involved 5 priests and 1 deacon. Two of the priests have since died and the others have been banned from active ministry. Information on when and where the alleged acts occurred was not available Monday.

The diocese did say they have spent more than $153,000 for victim's counseling and legal fees. And more than $360,000 in insurance settlements with alleged victims. "We're making progress. We have the report #1 as regard to the audits that we have been able with in 1 year be able to put so many things in motion in place," says Rodriguez.

Bishop Rodriguez points out that 8 of the 9 allegations happened more than 20 years ago and under his leadership they're have been none. Also, last year, the Lubbock Diocese hired two former FBI agents to audit and confirm that Lubbock is in compliance with the Catholic churches charter that protects children. Their findings? Bishop Rodriguez and the Diocese of Lubbock is in "substantial compliance" with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. They also received an "official commendation", the highest rating possible for safe environment training for adults.

"They are taught ways to recognize different types of abuse, not just physical but emotional and sexual or verbal or mental abuse," says Greg Ramzinski, director of youth ministry of the Lubbock Catholic Diocese.

In addition, victim's assistance coordinator, Charlotte Amato has been appointed to help alleged victims of sexual abuse. "I'm there to support the victim. Let them know there's someone there who cares visit with them refer them to counseling resources what ever they think they need," says Amato.

Bishop Rodriguez feels satisfied with the audit and says the Lubbock diocese is setting the standard for catholic churches. "This is becoming a standard something to be watched in the United States Catholic scene in the Anton so how we are dealing with it so others may be able to get a clue on how to handle it," says Rodriguez.

In addition to appointing a counselor and providing safe environment training, all volunteers and employees are required to undergo background checks before they are hired.

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