FALL RIVER —The Diocese of Fall River has been found to be in compliance with the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, the comprehensive set of procedures adopted by the U.S. bishops in 2002 to address allegations of sexual abuse of minors by members of the clergy.
The finding is the result of an onsite audit conducted in the diocese from July 19-21, 2022, by the independent firm Stonebridge Business Partners of Rochester, N.Y. The audit covered the period of July 1, 2019, through June 30, 2022.
In a letter to Bishop Edgar M. da Cunha, S.D.V., StoneBridge Partners stated, “The conclusions reached as to the compliance of your diocese are based upon inquiry, observation, and the review of specifically requested documentation furnished to StoneBridge Business Partners during the course of this audit. Thank you for your cooperation during this process.”
Bishop da Cunha said he was “very pleased with the result of the audit and grateful to all who work each day in our diocese, in our parishes, schools, institutions and programs to help create a safe environment. We must always be vigilant and proactive in our efforts to ensure the protection of our youth.”
To ensure accountability to its full implementation, the Charter requires annual audits of dioceses around the nation by an outside independent entity to assess compliance. These usually consist of data collection and review except every third year when an onsite visit is conducted for a more in-depth audit.
“Two auditors from StoneBridge visited the diocese for three days supported by an additional auditor who conducted remote interviews,” said Carolyn Shipp, who is Director of Safe Environment and Victim Assistance for the Diocese of Fall River.
“They interviewed a broad range of diocesan staff who play a role in implementation of the Dallas Charter including our bishop, chancellor, general counsel, the director of Communications, Ministerial Review Board Members and myself.”
The auditors also visited four parishes and two schools to assess compliance to the Charter at the “field” level.
In preparation for the onsite visit, staff of the Safe Environment Office provided to StoneBridge more than 100 documents from the 2019-2022 audit period that “support our adherence to the articles of the Dallas Charter,” explained Shipp.
Bishop da Cunha expressed his appreciation to Shipp and the Safe Environment Office staff who were principally responsible for the audit preparation and coordination.
The letter of acknowledgment of compliancy from StoneBridge Business Partners is available at the diocesan website at fallriverdiocese.org.
Information on the policies and protocols in place in the Diocese of Fall River for the protection of the faithful is available on the Safe Environment webpage on the diocesan website at fallriverdiocese.org.