The Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People is a comprehensive set of procedures originally established by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) in June 2002 for addressing allegations of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy. The Charter also includes guidelines for reconciliation, healing, accountability, and prevention of future acts of abuse. It was revised in 2005, 2011, and 2018.
The Charter directs action in all the following matters:
- Creating a safe environment for children and young people;
- Healing and reconciliation of victims and survivors;
- Making prompt and effective response to allegations;
- Cooperating with civil authorities;
- Disciplining offenders;
- Providing for means of accountability for the future to ensure the problem continues to be effectively dealt with through the Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection and the National Review Board.
Review Board info
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, every diocese is to have such a Review Board in which the majority of its members are Catholic lay persons not employed by the diocese. The Review Board is a confidential consultative body. In the interest of providing for objectivity and transparency, two of the Review Board members are from other Christian Churches.
Members of the Review Board have been appointed for a term of five years, which can be renewed. All members were recommended because of their personal integrity, expertise, and experience which includes pastoral care, education of children, safe environment for children and young people, psychological care and treatment of sexual abuse of minors, and law enforcement. The following serve as members of the Review Board for the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown:
Rev. Leo Arnone, Joyce Cunningham, Joseph Grappone, Todd Mahalko, Robert Skelly, Brent Stoltzfus and Rev. Miles Zdinak.
Oversight Board info
The Oversight Board was formed to oversee the implementation of child protection reforms mandated by a 2017 Memorandum of Understanding between the Office of the United States Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania and the Diocese. The involvement of the United States Attorney’s Office had its origins in a 2016 Pennsylvania Grand Jury report which documented a series of scandals involving sexual abuse of minors by members of the clergy and alleged subsequent cover-ups by two previous Diocesan bishops.
The Independent Oversight Board consists of outside experts and is responsible for overseeing the development and implementation of policies and procedures for child protection. It does not handle specific allegations of abuse; that is the responsibility of the Diocesan Bishop, the Allegation Review Board of the Diocese and law enforcement agencies.
James W. Brown (IOB Chair) is a former Chief of Staff to both U.S. Senator Robert P. Casey, Jr. and Pennsylvania Governor Robert P. Casey. Mr. Brown is also a former founding partner of a family of venture capital funds and a former partner of a major law firm. He has extensive experience with issues involving children and education, including service on the boards of three schools that educate underprivileged children. Mr. Brown serves as Chair of the Board.
Walter “Pete” Carlson (IOB member) is a former criminal investigator for the Pennsylvania State Police. During his service with the State Police, Mr. Carlson investigated and helped prosecute child abuse cases for over 15 years. He also served as Chief of Detectives for the District Attorney’s Office of Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania. He has taught classes and lectured extensively on the subject of child abuse protection.
Eileen Dombo, PhD (IOB member)22 is an Associate Professor and Assistant Dean of the National Catholic School of Social Service at The Catholic University of America. Dr. Dombo is also a practicing psychotherapist and has written and lectured extensively on trauma, child sexual abuse and mental health treatment. Dr. Dombo is currently the Chair of the Child Protection Advisory Board of the Archdiocese of Washington, DC.
Mary Herwig (IOB member) is an expert in the field of Formative Spirituality and provides spiritual formation counseling, having studied under Adrian van Kaam C.S.Sp., PhD and Susan Muto, PhD. Ms. Herwig is an advocate for child protection in all its forms, including for those who have suffered child abuse. She experienced abuse herself as a young child. At present, Ms. Herwig promotes the Catholic Church’s call for a “New Evangelization”, nurturing others on the importance of ongoing spiritual formation. She is a longtime resident of Somerset, Pennsylvania.
Jerry Johnson, Esq. (IOB member) served as the United States Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania for eight years. In that role, he led the prosecution of thousands of criminal cases, including numerous matters involving child abuse. Mr. Johnson is a practicing attorney in Pittsburgh.
Leslie Nichols, CPP, (Consultant) is an expert with broad experience in child protection within organizations. Before starting his consulting practice in 2016, Mr. Nichols spent more than 20 years as the Vice President for Child Protection for the national headquarters of Boys & Girls Clubs of America. He has written and lectured extensively on child abuse protection. Since its formation, members of the Board have had extensive discussions and meetings with Mr. Nichols.