THE DIGNITY OF A PERSON
- Every Person has the right to be respected and treated with the dignity befitting a child of God.
- Every person has boundaries and the right to expect respect of those boundaries.
- Every person has the right to challenge any behavior or comment that is offensive or inappropriate.
- It is the responsibility of everyone to safeguard those around us.
- It is the responsibility of everyone to promote healing where there is injury with firm justice and mercy towards all.
Background Screening – All Church Personnel shall allow an inquiry into their background to assess whether any reason exists that would suggest the person is not suitable for the position sought. Such background investigation shall include a Level 2 fingerprint criminal background search ("CBS"). A Level 2 CBS includes a state-wide criminal and juvenile records check through the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and a federal criminal records check through the Federal Bureau of Investigations.
Charter – The document, 2005 Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, developed by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, outlines the goals, duties and responsibilities of dioceses in the United States in response to the issue of child abuse.
Child/minor – A person who is under 18 years of age or a person with a physical or mental handicap who is under 21 years of age.
Church Personnel - For purposes of this policy only, Church Personnel includes all individuals who minister, work, or volunteer in any school, parish, or ministry of the Diocese whose compliance with this policy is sought. The term has no legal meaning or significance outside the scope of this policy and is not indicative of any employment or agency relationship.
Covered Volunteer - Any unpaid person engaged or involved in a Diocesan activity, or who is involved in a Diocesan ministry and has contact with children, young adults, mentally-challenged children or adults, or the elderly or disabled, whether in a hospital, nursing home, or residential setting, including pastoral visits and distribution of Communion. All persons age 15 or older engaged in work or volunteer activities involving Vulnerable Populations must be fingerprinted.
Covered volunteers including catechists, ministers to the sick, youth ministry volunteers, coaches, volunteers of Bishop Grady Villas, counselors of children or vulnerable persons, Boy/Girl Scout Troop Leaders, ushers with financial responsibilities, and child care center volunteers will be background checked every five years through the FBI/FDLE screening process.
Credible allegation – A claim based upon identifiable facts, such as specific names, places, or time frames, details of incidents or names of corroborating persons.
Employee - Any lay person who is employed by or engaged in ministry in any Diocesan entity, whether part-time or full-time, who is given payment for services rendered, and for whom the Diocesan entity is obligated to withhold payroll taxes (FICA, Medicare, and withholding). This definition does not include independent contractors, consultants, vendors or other persons who are not subject to the supervision of the Bishop of the Diocese and for whom no such duty to withhold payroll taxes exists.
Pastoral Counseling – Counseling as provided by adults who have received specific certification or licensures.
Pastoral Minister – An individual who works with parishioners in ministry in the name of the parish or diocesan institution.
Senior Director of Human Resources: The person responsible for distribution of and adherence to diocesan policies and procedures required to assure a safe environment for Vulnerable Persons. In this diocese, this position is in the Office of Human Resource. This individual maintains the records required for the annual audit conducted by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops ("USCCB").
Sexual Abuse – Any unlawful conduct as described by in the State of Florida Statutes.
Victim Assistance Coordinator – An individual designated by the Bishop to be responsible for initial pastoral response and subsequent pastoral care in the name of the Diocese to victims of sexual abuse by Church Personnel.
Vulnerable Person – A minor under 18 years of age or a person whose ability to perform normal activities of daily living is impaired due to a mental, emotional, long-term physical or developmental disability or dysfunction, or brain damage, or the infirmities of aging.
In an effort to ensure the safety of those persons under the care of the Diocese, all Church Personnel, ages 15 and older, will be required to submit a completed Criminal Background Check Form as well as a complete set of fingerprints so as to facilitate a criminal background investigation. Eligibility for employment, volunteer work, or ministry will be contingent and conditioned upon a satisfactory background investigation. This background investigation will be updated every five (5) years. This policy applies even if an individual has been cleared through an FBI or FDLE check conducted by their employer or another entity.
For specific preventive measures and information, please see the diocesan brochure: Protecting Our Children found on the Diocese of Orlando website www.orlandodiocese.org. On the home page, click Child & Youth Protection then click on Brochure. Information includes:
- Parental questions and responses regarding abuse
- Signs of child sexual abuse
- Myths about child sexual abuse
- Internet safety
Safe Environment Education
All Church Personnel, including applicants offered a position, and volunteers working with Vulnerable Populations are required to complete safe environment training and a Level 2 CBS.
Safe Environment Training Video
To fulfill the safe environment training requirements, applicants must preview the 20-minute video "Protecting Our Youth" at, www.orlandodiocese.org and then subsequently complete the on-line test, which consists of 13 questions.
Prior to viewing the video, employees and volunteers must register for fingerprinting at the Fingerprint Registration site at www.orlandodiocese.org.
In order to view the video training without fingerprint registration, contact the Diocese of Orlando Human Resources Office for a generic bar code.
Pass/fail results are sent directly to the Sr. Director of Human Resources. The individual completing the quiz will receive an e-mail notification with pass or fail results. A copy should be maintained by the individual.
In an effort to ensure the safety of those persons under the care of the Diocese, all Church Personnel and covered volunteers will be required to submit a completed Criminal Background Check Form as well as a complete set of fingerprints so as to facilitate a criminal background screening.
All Diocesan employees and covered volunteers including clergy, principals, instructional personnel, seminarians, school and parish employees, directors of religious education, catechists, youth ministry directors and volunteers, religious brothers and sisters, coaches (whether paid or volunteer), music/choir directors, employees and volunteers of Bishop Grady Villas, counselors of children or Vulnerable Persons, Boy/Girl Scout Troop Leaders, independent contractors working as substitute teachers or temporary school office personnel, and child care center employees and volunteers will be background checked every five years through the FBI/FDLE screening process. For all individuals, this policy supersedes other requirements of any federal or state policy.
Distribution of this Policy
A copy of this policy and the procedures for implementation will be distributed to all parishes and other Diocesan entities. All pastors and designated administrators are to be familiar with this policy and with their respective responsibilities for screening Church Personnel and are required to fully implement the training and screening within their respective entities.
New Church Personnel
Before beginning work or volunteer activities, the individual must complete the appropriate criminal background process and receive clearance from the Office of Human Resources. All offers for any position are contingent upon approval from the Office of Human Resources. All new hires requiring FBI/FDLE checks (and other individuals in emergency cases or when approved by the Office of Human Resources) will be fingerprinted at an approved Diocesan location identified on the Fingerprint Registration Web site. Every five years, these individuals will be required to be re-screened, according to the appropriate type of screening.
All Church Personnel, including volunteers, such as coaches and assistant coaches, must be cleared through the background check process before they can begin their duties.
General Fingerprinting Procedure
Employee or volunteer applicants must register on the Fingerprint Registration Web site. At the time of registration, an appointment may be made to be fingerprinted at a Diocesan approved location. Applicants must take the barcode (provided at registration) with them to the appointment. Fingerprints may be taken by a Diocesan trained or certified employee or volunteer.
Third Party Vendors
No third party vendors, other than vendors approved by the Diocese of Orlando Office of Human Resources, can be used by any Diocesan entity for the purpose of background checks and/or clearance. Results of all fingerprinting and background checks will be processed through the Office of Human Resources for all diocesan entities.
Special Procedures for Schools
Instructional personnel certified through the State of Florida will be re-screened every five years in conjunction with the State's certification process (this will include a renewed FDLE/FBI check). All other school employees will be re-screened every five years. The State of Florida certification approval and the related screening results for instructional personnel will be reviewed by the Office of Human Resources.
International Background Check
Any prospective employee, clergy, religious or volunteer from another country who has not been in the U.S. for at least one year will receive an International Background Check. Special forms are required and available through the Office of Human Resources. The fee for this type of background check is applicable per the country of origin.
Employees or volunteers who work with databases are required to be FBI background checked because of their handling of sensitive information.
Digital fingerprint images will be retained in a secure electronic database authorized by the Office of Human Resources. Any identified criminal history, along with Diocesan recommendations for clearance, will be held in a secure location in the Chancery.
Once the background check process has been completed, the Office of Human Resources will notify the parish, school, or designated administrator, electronically in writing, of all individuals who have cleared without restriction. When the completed FDLE/FBI background check finds evidence of a conviction or other problem, it is called a "Hit," and the pastor, principal, or designated administrator will be notified confidentially, in writing, regarding the results of the background check and the decision to deny employment or volunteer activity, or restrict an individual's employment or volunteer activity. If an individual is cleared, the notification shall be kept on file at the parish, school, or ministry. Restriction or rejection notices shall be kept in a locked, confidential file, in alphabetical order. When an administrator or pastor is replaced, their replacement shall review the confidential file to ensure that they are aware of any restrictions on a volunteer's or employee's activities. In addition, he or she shall verify, in writing, to the Office of Human Resources that such a review has been completed. Any individual who is rejected or placed on restriction should be told by the pastor, principal, or designated administrator. If the individual feels there is an error, or that he or she is being unfairly treated, he or she will be required to provide written documentation to the Senior Director of Human Resources before the decision can be reconsidered.
Limitations on Use
The Diocese may not use the criminal records, juvenile records, or abuse registry information of a person obtained through this screening process for any purpose other than determining whether that individual meets the minimum standard for good moral character or is otherwise qualified for the position sought.
Covered volunteers and employees needing to be re-fingerprinted must register on the Fingerprint Registration Web site.
Clearance with Past Transgressions
Should the process find evidence of a conviction or other problem; it is called a "hit." When a "hit" occurs the pastor, principal, or designated administrator will be notified confidentially, in writing, regarding the results of the background check. The final decision to deny or restrict employment or volunteer activity is then made by the Diocese.
A person may be permitted to work or volunteer, with restrictions. For example, if a person has had a DUI or reckless driving conviction, he/she is not permitted to drive on behalf of the parish or school. Serious crimes, especially those involving violence or sexual abuse, will result in the applicant not being permitted to work or volunteer for the Diocese. Persons who have a criminal conviction related to the responsibilities of the position the individual will assume (e.g., a bookkeeper applicant convicted of forgery or embezzlement; a bus driver convicted of DUI or reckless driving), may be excluded from employment, volunteer service, or ministry. The Diocese also will comply with applicable Florida law. See Appendix A for a list of disqualifying offenses.
Digital fingerprint images will be retained in a secure electronic database through a vendor approved by the Diocese of Orlando. Any identified criminal history, along with Diocesan recommendations for clearance or denial, will be held in a secure location in Office of Human Resources.
State Licensed and Regulated Facilities
Some diocesan facilities are licensed or otherwise regulated by the State and may in some circumstances be governed by additional requirements and only the state can grant an exemption at those facilities.
Any individual who is rejected or placed on restriction should be informed by the pastor, principal, or designated administrator, and given the reasons for the rejection or restriction. If the individual believes there is an error, or that the facts of the case are not properly known, he or she will be required to provide written documentation to the Senior Director of Human Resources before the decision will be reconsidered.
Restriction or rejection notices shall be kept in a locked, confidential file. When an administrator or pastor is replaced, their replacement shall review the confidential file to ensure that they are aware of any restrictions on a volunteer's or employee's activities. He or she also shall verify, in writing, to the Office of Human Resources that such a review has been completed.
In addition, individuals who misrepresent or fail to complete accurately their background information, including any criminal record or activity, will be denied employment or volunteer activity, or, if the inaccuracy or misrepresentation is subsequently discovered, the individual may be immediately terminated from employment, volunteer service, or ministry.
Limitations on Use of Screening Information
The Diocese may not use the criminal records, juvenile records, or abuse registry information of a person obtained through this screening process for any purpose other than determining whether that individual meets the minimum standard for good moral character or is otherwise qualified for the position sought.
Volunteers From Outside of the Diocese
In the Diocese of Orlando, for mission trips to other lands, missioners, regardless of their residence, must be cleared through the Diocese of Orlando Fingerprint and Background Check Program and successfully completed the Diocese of Orlando Safe Environment Training in order to receive permission to participate.
Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion
It is required that Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion be safe environment trained (unless they also serve as a ‘covered volunteer’ in another ministry).
Ushers and Collections Volunteers
Collections volunteers and ushers should be fingerprinted and safe environment trained.
Criteria for Exclusion
No one, other than the Senior Director of Human Resources, has the authority to modify or allow any deviation from the Training and Background Screening procedures set forth in this Policy. Any modification or deviation must be approved in writing.
For a priest who is visiting for an event or a weekend, a Certification of Good Standing (COGS) is required from the visiting priest's Bishop or Superior to grant faculties.
For a priest who is visiting for the summer (i.e. for 1 month), a COGS is required to grant faculties.
For a priest who is requesting an assignment (i.e. sabbatical or extern), a COGS and a fingerprinting and background (national or international) background check is required to grant faculties.
For a priest who is an extern residing in our diocese for all or part of the year (i.e. retired) and would like to assist at a parish, a COGS and a fingerprinting and background check is required.
The Chancellor for Canonical Affairs is responsible to evaluate each request for faculties and grant them if other requirements are met.
Any form of sexual misconduct is sinful in the eyes of God. Certain forms of sexual misconduct can be criminal as well. Church Personnel who engage in any form of sexual misconduct are violating the ministerial relationship, misusing their authority and power, and taking advantage of the vulnerability of those they meet. In these circumstances there is an absence of meaningful consent to any sexual activity, even if the person is an adult. It is the responsibility of Church Personnel to maintain appropriate emotional and sexual boundaries with those with whom they work or serve. While it is not possible to identify every form of inappropriate conduct that violates a person's boundaries, based on the foregoing, it is inappropriate for Church Personnel to:
- perform any type of sexual act with anyone.
- give inappropriate gifts (such as lingerie).
- threaten or cause personal harm or injury.
- threaten or cause damage to property.
- smoke or encourage smoking on any diocesan property, school or entity.
- observe someone undressing while he/she is changing clothes at school, a sporting event or retreat other than necessary supervision in a locker room or approved changing area.
- denigrate or verbally abuse any person.
- provide medical advice, or medical procedure unless properly authorized or are required by law.
- administer drugs, including over-the-counter medication, in the absence of express written permission.
- provide massages or other physical therapy.
- examine the genitalia of any person, for any reason.
- touch an individual inappropriately.
- use the internet for pornographic access.
- show sexually suggestive objects or pornography.
- tell tales of sexual exploits, experiences or conflicts.
- make sexual propositions.
- use sexual vulgar language.
- offer a prolonged hug when a brief hug is customary behavior.
- kiss on the lips.
- invite children and young people to their home unsupervised or for overnight stays, even with the permission of the parent or guardian.
- offer children and young people rides to their homes, even with the permission of the parent or guardian. (We recognize some of these restrictions would not apply due to marital status.)
Behaviors that may indicate poor boundaries
- Over investment in children
- Over identification with children
- Failure to set appropriate limits with children
- Excess animation around children
- Indications of anxiety regarding adult sexuality
- Overly anxious in interviews or under supervision
- Success in getting around the rules
- Lack of meaningful, in-depth relationships with adult peers
- No sense of responsibility for one's actions
- Keeping secrets with children
- Allowing special relationships with individuals
- Allowing individuals to break some rules
- Gifts to individual young person
Conduct with Youth and Young Adults
The Diocese of Orlando has specific Youth and Young Adult Policies and Procedures for all those who work or minister with youth or young adults in any Diocesan parish or entity.
All information relating to a Vulnerable Person's incident or others shall be assembled and retained in a written form in a confidential manner.
If you are a victim of abuse, or if any clergy, religious, lay employee, or volunteer of the Diocese of Orlando knows or has cause to suspect that a Vulnerable Person has been subjected to any form of abuse, child sexual abuse, or neglect by any person, including another diocesan employee or volunteer, religious or clergy, immediately will observe the following procedures.
- Make a report as required by law directly to the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS).
- Any mandatory report may be made by calling the toll free statewide abuse or neglect registry at 1-800-96ABUSE, or by calling the local DCFS office responsible for receiving such reports.
- Please note time and place of call, name of person taking the report and any report or case number for future references and to which law enforcement agency they intend to report the event.
- A verbal report to DCFS, shall be confirmed in writing to the local DCFS office within forty-eight (48) hours of making the verbal report.
- Notify law enforcement or the state attorney's office within the same calendar day.
- If the alleged perpetrator is a teacher, social worker, or licensed mental health professional, the event should also be reported to Department of Professional Regulations (DPR) at 1-800-445-6739.
- Please record name of person taking call and case number.
- Comply with instructions given by DPR regarding written report of event and any additional actions.
Immediately after telephoning DCF, DPR, and the appropriate law enforcement agency the individual will notify the pastor, school principal, director of religious education, or other responsible supervisor.
Immediately after receiving notification of a reported child abuse charge the supervisor will contact the victim assistance coordinator, who will then notify the parents.
Once written reports to DCF, DPR, and any other appropriate agencies are forwarded, the person reporting will give copies of these reports to the responsible supervisor within the same calendar day. Immediately after receiving copies of the written reports, the supervisor will forward them to the victim assistance coordinator.
Content of Report
The name, age, gender, address of the child as well as the name of the parent or guardian, the nature and extent of the abuse, and any other pertinent information should be included. The name, address, age, and gender and any other pertinent information concerning the alleged perpetrator should also be included.
The victim assistance coordinator receiving the report will notify the Bishop that same calendar day.
The Bishop and/or his representative will notify the Diocesan Review Board in a timely fashion.
In summary, when an allegation of child sexual abuse is received:
- Florida Reporting Law is followed. Call toll-free abuse registry hotline at 1-800-962-2873 or1-800-342-9152 immediately.
- The Victim Assistance Coordinator is notified, 407-246-7179.
- The individual is removed from his/her position pending a law enforcement and internal investigation.
- The Victim Assistance Coordinator commences an investigation as quickly as possible, in coordination with the Senior Director of Human Resources, but no later than within one week of the notification of the allegation, and consults with members of the Diocesan Review Board, the Diocesan Attorney, or others as needed.
- The recommendations of the Diocesan Review Board are presented to the Bishop.
Notification to Parent or Guardian If the complaint is not received from or does not involve the parent or guardian of a Vulnerable Person, arrangements should be made to notify the parent or guardian as soon as possible. (Notice should not be given to the parent or guardian if he or she is the person against whom the complaint is made.)
Parents or guardians should be informed of the report issued to DCFS by an individual in authority accompanied by individual making the report.
All allegations of sexual abuse by Church Personnel or on church premises shall be reported promptly to the Victim Assistance Coordinator (407-246-7179) who shall immediately notify the Diocesan Attorney who will in turn notify the local State Attorney. The Victim Assistance Coordinator shall notify the Bishop or, in his absence the Vicar General or Chancellor for Canonical Affairs. This reporting occurs after reporting to DCFS and law enforcement.
When a credible allegation of sexual abuse of a minor by any Church Personnel is received, the individual is removed from ministry while a preliminary investigation is initiated. In making an assessment and recommendation for action, the Victim Assistance Coordinator shall consult with those designated by the Bishop who are involved in administering issues related to the allegation.
The Diocese will cooperate with public authorities about reporting cases when the person alleged to have been abused is no longer a minor. In addition, the Diocese will advise and support a person's right to make a report to public authorities.
Restoration of Position
When the investigation proves the allegation to be not credible, the accused individual will be restored to his/her former position or placed in another diocesan position.
In the case of proven child sexual abuse, no one will be restored to a Diocesan position. If a priest or religious is removed, he or she can longer function in any ministry for any Diocese.
Assistance to Victim
The primary focus of pastoral concern and support is the victim and family. After a report is made to the Diocesan Review Board, appropriate measures are taken to assist in their healing process. Contact with the victim is restricted to the Bishop, the Victim Assistance Coordinator and any other person designated by the Bishop, so as to avoid confusion as to intent or care. Every effort will be made to keep the family of any victim who is still a minor properly informed. Counseling will be offered to the victim and family as appropriate and necessary.
Communication Regarding Allegation and/or Investigation
The Diocese of Orlando's policy with respect to communications reflects a commitment to transparency and openness. Within the confines of respect for the privacy and the reputation of the individuals involved, the Diocese will deal as openly as possible with members of the community, especially with regard to assisting and supporting parish communities.
All communications regarding allegations of child sexual abuse will protect the identity of the victim and reflect the confidential nature of the investigation. Care will be taken to insure that the rights of the alleged perpetrator are not violated.
Notification to parishes, schools, priests, religious, lay employees, and volunteers will be made through releases provided by the Bishop or his representative. These will be made available as soon as feasible.
Any employee found guilty of child sexual abuse or abuse of vulnerable adult will have this information noted in his or her personnel file. This determination is cause for termination from employment with the Diocese of Orlando and prohibition of future re-employment.
Inquiries for references in cases of guilty employees should be referred to the Office of Human Resources.
All media inquiries will be answered by Diocesan Director of Communication or the spokesperson designated by the Bishop for this purpose. No other diocesan employee or volunteer is to respond to the media except so directed by the Bishop. Every effort will be made to insure that all information is disseminated in a timely and appropriate manner. To that end, media releases will be made to appropriate individuals as advisable.
Please see the website www.orlandodiocese.org for additional information on:
- Mental Health Resources
- Citations from Florida Statutes pertaining to Child Sexual Abuse
- How to comply with the Children's Online Privacy Protection Rule
As appropriate, the Diocese will take some or all of the following actions with respect to the alleged perpetrator.
- Individual will be informed of the allegations by the Bishop or his representative and will be given an opportunity to respond to the allegation.
- Pastoral support and spiritual guidance will be offered.
- Individual will be advised of his/her right to seek legal and canonical counsel.
- Individual will be removed from contact with Vulnerable Persons and placed on administrative leave pending the investigation and/or psychological evaluation.
- Individual may be sent for a psychological evaluation.
- Individual may be offered whatever residential or outpatient care is recommended.
- In the case of a religious order person, the allegation will be reported to the major superior of the religious order.
The Diocesan Review Board acts in a confidential, consultative manner to advise the Bishop in any matter relating to alleged sexual abuse of a Vulnerable Person involving clergy or religious women. Any allegation of sexual abuse against a Vulnerable Person within the Diocese of Orlando may be reviewed by the Diocesan Review Board.
The Board advises the Bishop:
- In the discharge of his duties related to allegations of sexual abuse of a Vulnerable Person;
- Advise the bishop whether diocesan policy and procedures were followed in the case of an abuse.
- In the development of policy and practices related to the provision of a safe environment; and
- In the development of policy and practices related to response to allegations of abuse of a Vulnerable Person.
The Board meets as needed. The term limit for a Diocesan Review Board member is 5 years. Board members do not receive compensation.
This Board is appointed by the Bishop and consists of at least five individuals not employed by the diocese including a:
- Survivor or relative of a survivor of sexual abuse,
- Representative of law enforcement, and
- Mental health professional whose practice focuses on victims and/or perpetrators of childhood sexual abuse and recovery
- Priest who serves as Pastor in the Diocese of Orlando.
- Members of the Diocesan Review Board should be individuals of outstanding integrity and good judgment in full communion with the Church.
Additional participants may be invited to attend Diocesan Review Board meetings to act as resources for the Board. The term limit of a Diocesan Review Board Member is 5 years. These participants can include, among others, the Chancellor for Administration, the Director of Communications, the Diocesan Attorney, and the Sr. Director of Human Resources.