The Jesuits West Province has both a zero-tolerance policy for credible allegations made against a Jesuit involving a minor or a vulnerable adult and stringent procedures to ensure the safety of minors. No Jesuit who has a credible allegation of sexually abusing a minor or vulnerable adult is allowed to remain in public ministry.
In December of 2018, the Province released the names of priests and brothers who have been credibly accused of sexual abuse of minors since 1950. We did so because the People of God demand and deserve transparency and because we hope that this act of accountability would help victims and their families in the healing process. If additional members of the Jesuits West Province are found to have a credible allegation of abuse of a minor or vulnerable adult, those names will be added to the list.
Thankfully, in the years since shocking cases of clergy sexual abuse were first brought to light, there has been significant reform in how the Church and religious orders like the Jesuits handle allegations of sexual abuse. The majority of the cases related to the names that on the list date back decades. While even one case is abhorrent, it is consoling to know that the safeguards we have put in place are helping to create safe environments for everyone.
Ensuring Safe Environments
The Jesuits and employees of the Jesuits West Province are committed to protecting and promoting the well-being of all individuals. Since 2003, the Province has engaged Praesidium, an independent accrediting agency that audits and offers abuse prevention programs to religious orders in the United States. This program meets the standards of the Conference of Major Superiors of Men requiring all members in public ministry to complete educational programs on understanding and preventing sexual abuse and creating safe environments.
Consistent with the principles and directives articulated by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops1 and the Conference of Major Superiors of Men2, the Province is committed to:
- protecting children and vulnerable adults from physical and sexual abuse
- ensuring safe ministerial environments
- responding promptly, effectively and compassionately to anyone reporting abuse
- investigating all allegations of abuse
- complying and cooperating with civil, criminal, Church and diocesan laws and policies on the reporting and investigation of abuse
- respecting and supporting the individual rights of every person affected by abuse
- reaching out to victims and others affected by abuse with honesty, compassion and commitment to their physical, psychological and spiritual well-being
- responding pastorally to those accused of abuse
Read more on Province policies to protect minors and vulnerable adults.
How to Report an Allegation of Abuse
Claims of abuse are received by Jesuits West’s Advocacy Coordinator, Mary Pat Panighetti. Ms. Panighetti makes mandated reports to law enforcement when the allegation involves a minor or vulnerable adult, ensures that complaints are investigated and accompanies victims who come forward.
When an allegation against a Jesuit is made, it triggers a series of events, including a comprehensive investigation conducted by professionals hired by the Province. The results of the Province’s investigation are presented to an independent, interdisciplinary Province Review Board, comprised of lay professionals from the fields of psychology, law enforcement and human resources, which evaluates findings to determine if a claim is credible. The Province Review Board subsequently makes a recommendation to the Provincial of Jesuits West, who makes the final determination about the credibility of a claim.
From the moment a claim is reported to the Province — even if the allegation dates back decades — the person making the allegation is immediately offered therapy funded by the Province with a therapist of their choosing. They are also asked if they would like to tell their story, either in writing or in a meeting or phone call with the Provincial of Jesuits West.
If you believe that you or someone you know has been abused by a Jesuit, please contact Mary Pat Panighetti, at 408-893-8398 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
We also urge you to contact appropriate law enforcement and child-protective agencies if you believe any incident of abuse has occurred.
1 Ad Hoc Committee for Sexual Abuse, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Washington, D.C., 2005/2011; Ad Hoc Committee for Sexual Abuse, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Vatican-U.S. Bishops’ Mixed Commission on Sex Abuse Norms, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Washington, D.C., 2006.
2 Annual Assembly, Conference of Major Superiors of Men, Philadelphia, PA, August 10, 2002.