Westminster Abbey has clear and definitive policies on addressing allegations of sexual abuse of a minor by a member of the Abbey or Seminary of Christ the King. These policies are comprehensive, updated regularly, and specify the responsibilities of the Abbey and the Abbot to persons who may have been victims of sexual abuse as minors, to their families, and to monks and employees who may be accused of sexual abuse involving a minor. Westminster Abbey has entered into an agreement with Praesidium to ensure we are in full compliance with these policies and procedures and to work towards full accreditation.
Westminster Abbey views sexual abuse of minors by its members as morally reprehensible. In addressing an incident or allegation of child sexual abuse by a monk, the Abbey maintains a primary concern for the victim’s safety and well-being.
A Synopsis of Key Points
- EVERY allegation is reported to law enforcement and the individual is immediately removed from any access to minors.
- Every allegation is reviewed, regardless of its initial plausibility or the identity of the person named in the allegation.
- If an allegation is denied by the accused, an independent investigator may be retained in a timely manner to gather information and to make a confidential report to the Abbot. The report will be forwarded by the Abbot to the External Review Board to review the findings and make a recommendation to the Abbot on whether it finds the fact of sexual abuse to be established.
- During the time the allegation is being investigated, the alleged victim and/or family will be offered pastoral support such as counseling and will be provided with contact information for our Survivor Assistance Coordinator.
- If there is a semblance of truth to an allegation and it involves a monk, the Abbot will remove the monk from all public ministry pending the completion of an investigation. The monk will also not be allowed to have any unsupervised access to minors during this investigation.
- If at any point civil authorities choose to conduct an investigation into the allegation, the Abbey will suspend its independent investigation pending the outcome of civil or criminal investigations. The Abbey will cooperate fully with appropriate provincial and federal authorities.
- If the fact of sexual abuse by a monk is not established, the case will be closed, the monk will be reinstated to any responsibilities and duties from which he was removed, and the Abbey will make every effort to restore the good name of the accused monk.
- If the allegation of sexual abuse is substantiated through the monk’s admission or the process outlined above and the monk is not subject to confinement or other restrictions under criminal law, a Safety Plan will be developed to supervise the monk’s work, travel, campus activity, and associations, and to reduce any risks posed to minors by the monk.
- The Abbey will inform any organization – including schools, parishes or civic groups – in which the monk has abused a minor. If the allegation arose in the context of ministry or employment in a diocesan entity, the Abbey will follow the policies of the diocese on pastoral responses to communities affected by the allegation.