WASHINGTON (March 30, 2005)—The U.S. Bishops' Ad Hoc Committee on Sexual Abuse has launched a survey of survivors of clergy sexual abuse of minors to get input into improving the church's response to the problem and its prevention.
The survey will be conducted by Mary A. Lentz, an Ohio-based child abuse prevention consultant. It will be available on-line March 30-May 4 on the website dedicated exclusively to this project, www.victim-outreach.com.
It will not be possible for anyone to determine the identity of respondents, who also are asked not to identify themselves, their abuser, or the abuser's diocese or eparchy or religious community. Instructions stress that "Reports of abuse are to be made to law enforcement officials and officials of the diocese/eparchy where the abuse occurred."
The project has three goals
When complete the results of the project will be made available on the Web at www.victim-outreach.org, in printed form, and on the bishops' Web site, www.usccb.org.
Archbishop Harry J. Flynn, chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee, said the survey is part of church efforts to reach out to survivors of abuse who have a unique perspective to offer the church and others who have been abused.
"The horrific experience of being sexually abused is best understood by the survivors of this crime," Archbishop Flynn said. "With the help of these survivors, the bishops can better reach out to those who have been hurt and can develop prevention programs to assure as much as is humanly possible that this crime never occurs again."
The questionnaire is divided into four parts. Part A contains questions about the abuse and its impact on the survivor and others. Part B contains questions that pertain to informing others about the abuse and reporting it to authorities. Part C contains questions about the responses of the Church to the survivor's report of abuse. Part D contains questions that pertain to future responses and prevention of abuse.
Mary Lentz has taken on the project at the request of the Catholic bishops of the United States and their Office of Child and Youth Protection.
Ms. Lentz is a former public school teacher and an attorney whose practice is in public law and school law as well as not-for-profit corporation law. She holds a juris doctor degree from Cleveland Marshall College of Law of Cleveland State University, a master's degree from Georgetown University and a bachelor's degree from Ursuline College in Cleveland. Ms. Lentz lectures nationally and locally and is an author in the area of public and private school law, and law regarding the rights of children. Prior to entering private practice, Ms. Lentz was a public school teacher, legal counsel for the Ohio Department of Education, a county criminal and a municipal police prosecutor. She is presently Youth Coordinator for the City of Westlake (Ohio) Community Services Department.