How are reports of sexual abuse handled within the Springfield Diocese?

Hampden County

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The Diocese of Springfield has released reports of clergy sexual abuse cases.22News found out how the reports are handled.

It’s a process that involves the district attorney and multiple agencies that work together to resolve these claims.The Springfield Diocese this week released a report detailing decades of abuse committed by members of clergy.

Since 1992, the Diocese of Springfield has paid out 147 abuse claims totaling more than $14 million. Much of the information is not new, with a majority of the cases occuring in the 1960s and 1970s.

While 15 cases were reported in 2018, the church said only one of them actually occured in the past decade.

“I think there’s a misconception that the crisis is still ongoing,” Springfield Diocese spokesman Mark Dupont said. “Most of what was reported by the Pennsylvania Grand Jury and most of what we reported in our two page analysis are cases that go back three, four, five, decades even longer.”

Now, the normal procedure for handling the abuse report involves an investigation by the diocese before it’s put into consideration by a review board, and then reported to the bishop.

In the Springfield Diocese report, many of the accused clergy members have died. If a person named in the complaint is in active ministry, they are temporarily suspended pending the outcome of the investigation.

Though many of the cases occurred years ago, Dupont told 22News it’s an issue that the diocese continues to work on.

“One case of abuse is one too many,” he said. “So we certainly take no pleasure in putting these numbers out. The church has done a much better job in training people and putting in place proedures that will protect young adults from any future abuse.”

Of the 15 incidents of abuse reported in 2018, Dupont said there is only one that actually occured that year, and it’s under investigation by the diocese and the district attorney. 

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