Responding to Accusations of Abuse at an Event
The accusation of abuse at a Church-related function is our worst nightmare. We work with young people because we want to pass down to them the goodness, strength, and blessedness of life in the Church. Our goal is to provide them with the most positive and nurturing experiences we can. We even feel that because God is at the center of all of our efforts, we are somehow immune to abuse occurring at our events. Despite all our efforts, however, situations do arise where people neglect or abuse the responsibility given to them. When these cases arise, we must be prepared to do everything we can so that the truth will come out and the safest of the child is given first priority.
The following are some steps to take if someone makes an accusation of abuse at one of your activities or events:
1. Take the accusation seriously. Do not attempt to cover-up, ignore, or blame the accusation on anyone.
2. Be able to show that you followed the above event planning and supervision guidelines or be able to pinpoint where they were not adhered to.
3. Immediately contact your priest, bishop, insurance carrier, and attorney (that means knowing who it is)
4. Appoint a spokesperson who will be the contact for all dialogue.
5. Do not approach the accused person until the safety of the child is secured.
6. Contact the local reporting agency.
Depending on the type of accusation, your attorney and the reporting agency will advise you about what addition steps, if any, you should take.
If you are really wondering what to do, contact one of the reporting agencies anonymously and ask about a 'hypothetical' situation.