We commend Archbishop Carroll High School’s administration for how it handled yesterday’s crisis. Their letter to parents included FBI contact information. The brave student who came forward in regard to Fran Murphy did the best thing possible. He and his mother contacted civil authorities. However, the Archdiocese in its press release and on its Web site still continues to send a different message to other possible victims.
Victim assistance sounds like a positive offering. It is a much-needed service. However, the latest Grand Jury report found serious conflicts of interest with the Archdiocesan Victim’s Assistance program and made the following recommendations on page 117 of the Grand Jury Report. Here is what they said:
“In particular we recommend that the Philadelphia Archdiocese:
• Fund a victim assistance program that is independent of the Archdiocese and its lawyers.
Our observations of two victims’ experiences with the Archdiocese’s victims assistance program are sufficient to convince us that the program needs to be completely overhauled and removed from the control of the Archdiocese. It is impossible for church employees to wholeheartedly serve the interests of the victims. As Mary Achilles, the consultant who tried to improve the victims assistance program, recognized, conflicts of interest are unavoidable. Victims of sexual abuse suffer today from the assistance coordinators’ split loyalties.
The Archdiocese should either refer victims to the already existing Pennsylvania Victims Compensation Assistance Program, and then reimburse the program for aid that it provides to people harmed by Archdiocese employees, or it should fund an independent nonprofit that would administer assistance to the victims. The important element would be complete separation between the people who administer the fund and the Archdiocese and its lawyers. Decisions about assistance would be based solely on the needs of the victims. Information about the victims, their mental health, and their treatment would not be shared with the Archdiocese….”
Until the program is removed from Archdiocesan supervision, the Church leadership isn’t making good on promises regarding the protection of children and victim justice.