October 12, 2018

Archdiocesan Review Board evaluates abuse claims, helps victims

By Sean Gallagher

The Archdiocesan Review Board worked closely with Archbishop Charles C. Thompson to prepare the list of clergy serving in central and southern Indiana dating back to the 1940s who have had credible allegations of sexual abuse made against them that is published in this issue of The Criterion. (See related story)

This board was established by then-Archbishop Daniel M. Buechlein in 2002 in compliance with the “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People,” which was issued by the bishops of the U.S. that same year.

The review board has six members, five of whom are lay Catholics from across central and southern Indiana with professional training and experience that make them well-qualified to evaluate claims of abuse and recommend treatment for victims of abuse.

The members include a police detective who investigates child abuse cases, a clinical psychologist, a retired school administrator, a retired lawyer who practiced civil rights law, a retired social worker and an archdiocesan priest.

They meet four times each year to review the status of past credible claims of abuse against clergy or others representing the Church. This includes recommending various forms of mental health treatment for victims of abuse.

In evaluating new claims of abuse and reviewing the status of past claims, the review board works closely with Carla Hill, the victims assistance coordinator for the archdiocese, who receives initial claims of abuse and reports them directly to the Indiana Department of Child Protective Services. She also continues assisting victims of abuse in the assistance they are offered by the archdiocese.

The review board meets at other times as needed to evaluate new abuse claims and for other work that may arise.

This has been the case in recent months as two new claims of abuse against archdiocesan priests have been made.

Ida Lamberti, a member of St. Luke the Evangelist Parish in Indianapolis, took part in those meetings. A member of the review board since 2012, Lamberti is a retired lawyer who previously represented clients who had experienced various forms of discrimination.

She saw herself in this work as being a voice “for people who didn’t have a voice when their rights were abridged.”

Lamberti similarly views herself and fellow members of the review board as being a voice for people who have been abused by clergy or others representing the Church.

“I believe we have been called to be the voice of that person,” she said, “and to try and look at what would help them best to heal and receive the kind of treatment and counselling that will help them to deal with that past and become better equipped to move forward.”

Since beginning her service on the review board in 2012, Lamberti has worked with three shepherds of the archdiocese: Bishop Christopher J. Coyne, who was the archdiocese’s apostolic administrator at the time and is now bishop of Burlington, Vt.; Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, now archbishop of Newark, N.J.; and Archbishop Thompson.

In all cases, Lamberti found the prelates supportive of and interested in the work of the review board.

Regarding Archbishop Thompson, Lamberti said that “he has been very engaged in what is going on in our archdiocese and the need to have greater transparency about the process.”

Lamberti is also confident that archdiocesan leaders respect the independence of the review board, which allows it to complete its mission of evaluating claims of abuse and seeking to give aid to abuse victims.

She noted that while the archbishop “is the final authority for the archdiocese,” the members of the review board “certainly have every opportunity to give our input and to make a recommendation. And we are free to make the recommendation that we think is appropriate.”

Regarding the review board, Archbishop Thompson expressed his gratitude “for the incredible dedication and seriousness in which each member has provided in time and talent.”

“Lay involvement is essential in all aspects of ministry and service, but none more important than the protection of children and young people, as well as concern for victims of abuse,” Archbishop Thompson said. “Trust and credibility are predicated on the proper means of transparency and accountability, which necessarily involves our Archdiocesan Review Board.”

(If you are a victim of sexual misconduct by a person ministering on behalf of the Church, or if you know of anyone who has been a victim of such misconduct, please contact civil authorities and the Archdiocesan Victim Assistance Coordinator Carla Hill. There are two ways to make a report to the archdiocese:

—Carla Hill, Archdiocese of Indianapolis, Victim Assistance Coordinator, P.O. Box 1410, Indianapolis, IN 46206-1410, call 317-236-1548 or 800-382-9836, ext. 1548, or e-mail carlahill@archindy.org.

—Ethics Point Confidential, Online Reporting, www.archdioceseofindianapolis.ethicspoint.com or call 888-393-6810.)

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