The following is an excerpt from the diocese’s procedures for dealing with sexual abuse by clergy. You can read the entire document by clicking here. This should help everyone understand the current situation with Fr. Dennis Shaw, and what is going on behind the scenes right now. Emphasis added.
“E. INVESTIGATION OF COMPLAINTS/RESPONSE
When an allegation of sexual abuse is made, the Bishop’s delegate organizes the investigation promptly as the circumstances demand. The delegate or a member of the Review Board speaks directly with the parties involved. Persons other than the alleged victim or the accused cleric may be consulted as needed. A written report of the investigation and its findings is prepared.
1. VALID COMPLAINT
If the Review Board determines that there is probable cause and that a valid complaint exists, they meet with the Bishop and present their written report of the investigation, its findings of fact, and their recommended actions.
The ultimate goal of the Diocese is to give pastoral care that results in healing for all directly involved. Once an allegation is determined to be valid, representative(s) of the Diocese meet with the victim and/or their family to discuss the Diocese’s findings and appropriate treatment or therapy. Anyone victimized by sexual abuse by a cleric has the right to expect meaningful pastoral assistance from the church to enable that person’s holistic healing.
Appropriate treatment will vary by individual. The Diocese will provide reasonable assistance with a victim’s treatment or counseling with support determined by the recommended course of therapy.
If an allegation is determined to be valid, the Bishop will place the cleric on administrative leave. The cleric may not reside in parish or diocesan housing. Those closest to the cleric’s official assignment, including staff and parishioners, have the right to be told of the Bishop’s decision but not the details of the allegation. The obligation of sustenatio will be satisfied.
The accused cleric is subject to all aspects of canon and civil law that apply and will be advised of his canonical rights and his right to retain legal counsel. If the accused cleric admits his guilt, the Bishop will remove the cleric permanently from any assignment, place him on administrative leave and remove him from the parish residence. Other restrictions may be placed upon the cleric by competent authority. All appropriate parties will be notified of these actions.
Upon being placed on administrative leave by the Bishop, the cleric may receive psychological and psychiatric evaluation at a recognized facility of the Bishop’s choice as quickly as scheduling permits. Such assessment will include a complete course of action specific to the individual. The cleric will be asked to provide appropriate releases in accord with civil law.
2. INVALID COMPLAINT
If the Review Board and the Bishop agree that there is no probable cause to believe that alleged sexual abuse occurred, the investigation and response process will ordinarily be suspended. The file of the investigation will be retained. The Bishop will ensure that the accused and the alleged victim are notified of the termination of the investigation.
3. INCONCLUSIVE COMPLAINT
If the Review Board and the Bishop agree that an allegation is unfounded but that the accused cleric has or may have acted imprudently, the Bishop may restrict actions of the cleric and require that he be supervised, monitored, evaluated, or counseled while ensuring that the cleric’s canonical and civil rights are upheld. “
It would appear, based upon the fact that Fr. Shaw was suspended from executing priestly ministry, that the diocese has determined the allegation to be a “valid complaint.” What the end result of all this will be remains uncertain. Stay tuned, and continue to pray for all those involved.