Summary - Dealing with Sexual Abuse

Summary of Protocol/Policy

for Dealing with Allegations of Sexual Abuse

In the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. Boniface

  1. Every person who is aware of abuse of a child has a legal duty to report it to a peace officer or a social worker under the Child and Family Services Act of the Province of Manitoba.
  2. Whenever someone becomes aware of a child (under the age of 16) in need of protection services, the obligation to report arises.

Fresh or Recurring:

If it is clear that the abuse is recent or may reoccur, the duty to report is clear. Suspicion of abuse obliges one to report. Start from the premise the allegation is true.

Past Abuse:

Even if the abuse has discontinued or is unlikely to continue in the future, it must be reported to ensure that someone is available to provide for the child’s needs.

Adults who were Abused as a Child:

There is no legal duty to report since there is no longer a child in need of protection, unless there is reason to believe that there may be children still at risk. Adult victims may report the incident themselves if they so choose.

Reports by the Offender:

In some cases the offender may wish to report the abuse to a person other than a child welfare official. The duty to report the abuse to child care workers or police remains. Care must be taken in giving unqualified promises of confidentiality to persons who wish to discuss undefined “problems”. Persons receiving the information should advise the offender of the recipient’s obligation to report and give the offender suitable time (generally 3 business days) to consult a lawyer and report to the authorities.

Information Received with the Sacrament of Penance:

The confessional seal is inviolable despite the requirement of civil and criminal law, including The Child and Family Services Act. The penitent should be encouraged to make disclosure outside the confessional.

3. For any allegations of abuse against a cleric, church employee or volunteer, victims or others are encouraged to call the Archdiocese of St. Boniface and ask for the Archbishop’s delegate (chair of the Diocesan Advisory Committee). The telephone number is (204) 257-2572.