Catholic Diocese in SC updates abuse policy

Bishop Robert Guglielmone (Natalie Caula / WCIV)

By Natalie

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) - Monday the Diocese of Charleston's Bishop Robert Guglielmone signed a revised policy strengthening the Catholic Church's handling of sexual misconduct, abuse and minor allegations.

The redrafting comes amidst a sea of child sexual abuse allegations around the country, including the Lowcountry. Louis 'Skip' ReVille, who worked as a coach and teacher at several schools and organizations, has been accused of sexual misconduct with 30 young victims. So far, none of the allegations involve Bishop England High School, the Catholic school where ReVille coached tennis. Still, Bishop Guglielmone said it's important to address their policies.

The first policy was written in 1994 and updated in 2003. According to Bishop Guglielmone, the diocese redrafted the policy which serves as a manual and mandates the screening of personnel who may have regular contact with children. One of the major changes addresses social media.

According to the document, the diocese hopes the rules will minimize the opportunity for a predator to come into contact with a minor, including on the Internet and various electronic media.

The diocese's policy prohibits church personnel to be alone with a minor in a location not visible to others. The revisions extend the rule to the use of technology and media and increases transparency in communication between children and personnel. Examples include the use of diocese communication devises (cell phones). Specifically, if interacting with a minor, communications with young people may not be excessive or at inappropriate hours, no matter what medium. Regarding texting and email the policy reads:

"E-mail, texting and instant messaging are examples of the blessing and curse technology brings. The boundary issues that relate to verbal communication between church personnel and minors also apply to the use of e-mail, texting and instant messaging. All such communication must reflect appropriate content and be church related."

The policy also outlines the diocese's intent to comply with law enforcement in the reporting of allegations of sexual misconduct or abuse of minors.

Any individual who wants to file a report of an allegation to the Diocese of Charleston is encouraged to contact the Director of Child Protection Services at (843) 853-2130 ext. 209 or the Victim Assistance Coordinator at 1-800-921-8122.

The policy will take effect on April 15, 2012, when Bishop Guglielmone will hold a special mass in commemoration of Child Abuse Prevention Month.

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