Catholics in Connecticut are reacting to the news that Diocese in four New England states launched a confidential online reporting system for abuse last week. One of the Connecticut Diocese launched a similar system back in March.
None of the three Diocese in the state commented on specific plans to use the third party reporting program, Ethics Point, launched by the Boston Diocese.
But the Diocese in Bridgeport uses a similar third-party reporting program called Light House. Erin Neil is the victim assistance coordinator at that diocese. Neil says people can call her directly to report abuse. Or, they can contact Light House confidentially via a form on the diocese website.
“And that will also generate a report that can be followed through. So the judge can get that information and then be able to relay to us any information that we would need to know also to make sure that reporting is consistent with state law if there’s any incident that has to go to the police or DCF.”
A former judge hired by the Bridgeport Diocese to investigate abuse claims recommended the Light House system last year. He plans to submit a report to the diocese this fall.
Beth McAbe can’t wait to see the report. She is co-leader of Connecticut Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests. McAbe hopes it is a step towards transparency and healing.
“I think a survivor would be less fearful to come forward if they were reporting to a third party and not to a church itself because that to them is a trigger. It takes a lot of courage to do that.”
McAbe says when she reported abuse on Long Island to the Diocese of Rockville Center, the most important step for her was that local law enforcement followed up. She was able to file a case against the church in the State of New York in the past few weeks.
The Diocese in Hartford and Norwich, Connecticut did not respond to requests for comment. Those diocese have had a victim assistance ministry in place since 2003.