Skip to Content

Message from the Dominican Friars - Province of Saint Joseph

Dear Friends in Christ, October 27, 2018

As Provincial of the Dominican Province of St. Joseph, I write to you to acknowledge the horror of the recent revelations of child sexual abuse in the Church and the betrayal of trust that they represent. Unfortunately, our Province has not been exempt from this scourge. In the past, friars from our Province have harmed innocent children. On behalf of the Province, I ask your forgiveness for the sins of those individual friars and for any time the Province failed to act effectively to protect innocent children.

I assure you that no friar of our Province with a credible allegation of child sexual abuse lodged against him is in public ministry anywhere. The most contemporary allegations against friars of the Province concern events in 1999 and 2001. The friars in those two cases were subject to criminal prosecution and permanently removed from public ministry. All other known allegations concern events before 1990. The Province has undertaken significant efforts to ensure the safety of children and is committed to offering help and counselling to assist the healing of those who have been hurt. These efforts are summarized in an attachment to this letter.

However, there is always the need for continued vigilance and improvement. In consultation with my Council and upon the recommendation of the Province’s Child Protection Review Board, I have determined that the Province of St. Joseph will release the names of all friars who have been permanently removed from public ministry because of a credible allegation of child sexual abuse as well as those friars for whom an allegation of child sexual abuse was established after their death or departure from the Province. Our hope is that the release of these names will offer consolation to those who have been harmed and encourage others to come forward to receive help. The names will be posted on our Provincial website on November 8th.

During November, I have asked all of our friars to pray in a special way for the healing of victims, for the continued protection of children, and for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the meeting of U.S. Bishops in Baltimore on November 12-14. I invite you to join us in these intentions.

Sincerely in Christ,

Very Rev. Kenneth R. Letoile, O.P. Prior Provincial

The Dominican Province of St. Joseph takes very seriously our responsibility to protect all persons to whom we minister, especially children. Since 1990, the province has had specific policies to protect children and to respond to complaints of child sexual abuse. In 2006, the Province established the Affirming and Protecting Children and Young People Program to provide a more comprehensive response in compliance with the USCCB Charter and the Standards of the Conference of Major Superiors of Men. The following policies have been in effect since 2006:

Screening and Training— All candidates for admission into the province undergo a thorough screening process and extensive training including:

  • A criminal background check in every state and county in which the candidate has resided during the past ten years and a national sex offender registry check;
  • A psychological evaluation including a psycho-sexual history conducted by a licensed psychologist;
  • A social media usage check (added in 2016);
  • A minimum of five written references and five in-person interviews;
  • Six years of formation which includes training in the proper integration of human sexuality,
    development of the virtue of chastity, and annual evaluations;
  • An initial training program in child protection at the beginning of formation and continuing
    education each year.

Reporting and Support

  • All who have suffered sexual abuse as a child are encouraged to report such abuse to their local law enforcement agencies.
  • Anyone who is in need of assistance or who has concerns that they wish to bring to the attention of the Province may contact our Victim Assistance Coordinator, Ms. Theresa Rodrigues, LCSW-R (518-573-8254; vac@opeast.org).

Responding to Complaints

  • Without exception, all complaints received are reported to the appropriate law enforcement agency and the local diocese regardless of their apparent credibility, including anonymous complaints and complaints against friars who are deceased.
  • The Province’s Victim Assistance Coordinator, a licensed clinical social worker with over fifteen years of experience working with victims of child sexual abuse, offers to meet in person with the complainant wherever they currently live.
  • Immediately upon receiving the complaint, before any evaluation is made, the Province offers financial assistance for counseling using a counselor of the complainant’s choice; additional pastoral outreach is offered as appropriate.
  • All complaints are investigated as thoroughly as possible. Independent private investigators, usually retired law enforcement agents, are retained to investigate any allegation against a friar who is still living.
  • Anyone making a complaint may choose to meet with the Prior Provincial once his or her complaint has been investigated.

Zero Tolerance

  • No friar with a credible allegation of child abuse is ever allowed in public ministry under any circumstances.
  • Any friar who is accused is placed on administrative leave while the complaint is investigated.
  • Any candidate or student friar who is credibly accused or who exhibits any inappropriate
    tendencies toward children is dismissed from the Province.

Reviews — Every aspect of our child protection efforts, including each complaint received, is reviewed by the provincial review board.

  • The review board consists of volunteer men and women with a wide variety of training and backgrounds. Typically, the members include attorneys, retired law enforcement agents, psychologists and social workers who worked with victims, victims of child sexual abuse, and a parishioner who is a parent.
  • The review board has access to all documents related to every complaint received and ensures that the Province complies with civil law, the law of the Church, the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, the standards of the Conference of Major Superiors of Men, and our Provincial policies.

Accreditation — Our child protection efforts are audited by Praesidium, an outside audit service.

  • The accreditation process includes onsite inspections, interviews of Provincial leadership and members, review of records for all our screening and child protection and training, and a
    review of each complaint received since the last accreditation.
  • On June 4, 2018, the Province was reaccredited meeting all 25 standards of accreditation with no corrections or notations.

Prayer and Vigilance— It is important to remain vigilant in efforts to protect children not only during the times when there is great media attention but also in all the interviewing years. For the past twelve years, all the members of the Province have offered special prayers every week for the victims of child sexual abuse by priests and religious and for the protection of children. While this is a small action in comparison with the seriousness of child sexual abuse, it is only by the power of God’s grace that healing and true transformation can take place.