Procedures Explained

What to do if you or someone you know has been the victim of sexual abuse by a friar, province employee, or volunteer of Our Lady of the Angels Province

Our Lady of the Angels Province recognizes that sexual abuse by friars has devastating consequences for survivors and their families and the lay and religious communities. We have become increasingly aware of the effects of this tragic behavior and have developed a steadfast commitment to helping those affected.

This guide is intended to provide basic information about (1) how the Province defines sexual abuse (2) what its procedures are for responding to complaints of sexually inappropriate behavior and sexual abuse, and (3) to whom those subjected to sexual abuse can turn for help.

Sexual abuse of a minor is sexual contact between a religious and a minor.

Sexual exploitation or sexual abuse can include actions such as:

  • Sexual touch or other physical contact that makes the person being touched to feel uncomfortable
  • Giving a sexually charged gift (such as lingerie)
  • A prolonged hug when a brief hug is customary behavior
  • Kissing on the lips when a kiss on the cheek would be appropriate
  • Showing sexually suggestive objects or pornography
  • Sexual intercourse, anal, or oral sex
  • Innuendo or sexual talk
  • Suggestive comments
  • Descriptions of sexual experiences, fantasies, or conflicts
  • Sexual propositions

*This is not an exhaustive list.

To be clear, the Province’s stance is this: Sexual abuse of a minor by our friars, Province employees, and volunteers is contrary to Catholic morals, doctrine, and Canon (Church) Law. It is never acceptable. It is entirely the responsibility of the friar, province employee, or volunteer to maintain appropriate emotional and sexual boundaries with those with whom he works and/or serves.

The province responds to all allegations and reports of sexual abuse with great care. To ensure that we handle each report promptly, thoroughly, and compassionately, the province has established an Office of Pastoral Outreach. The survivor assistance coordinator is a lay professional who will listen to, understand, and offer help, including appropriate psychological counseling for those affected by sexual abuse by a friar, province employee, or volunteer.

The province, through the survivor assistance coordinator and independent investigators, will respond swiftly to evaluate and investigate any accusation of sexual abuse by a friar, province employee, or volunteer.

The province, consistent with the directives of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, has also established a review board. This interdisciplinary board of lay professionals advises the province on all matters related to sexual misconduct.

Any friar, who has been found to have an established allegation of sexual abuse of a minor against him will be removed from ministry and placed under restrictions to ensure he does not have unsupervised access to minors.

In addition to establishing procedures for responding to sexual abuse, the province has undertaken a series of measures to prevent future incidents of abuse. These include extensive mandatory psychological evaluation of seminarians and novices before they enter formation and the provision of continuing education programs for our friars about issues of sexuality and personal conduct.

It is our firm belief that religious (friars) must maintain appropriate boundaries with minors. We call upon those with knowledge of a friar’s inappropriate behavior, whether past or present, to come forward with this information and prevent further harm. In short, we ask everyone to join with us to protect the safety of children, women, and men, and with firm determination, to promote healing where there is pain.

If you or someone you know believe that a friar, province employee, or volunteer has violated the boundaries outlined in this document, we urge you to report such behavior immediately to the minister provincial, and/or the pastoral advocate. To assist you in filing your report, please use our Statement Form. When the form is completed, please email or mail it to our minister provincial, and/or pastoral advocate. Their contact information is below. Your case will be handled with the strictest sensitivity and confidentiality. This is the contact information for the province:

Friar Michael Heine, OFM Conv.
Minister Provincial
Our Lady of the Angels Province
Office of the Minister Provincial
12300 Folly Quarter Road
Ellicott City, MD 21042
(410) 531-1400

Kristin Austin, LCSW-C, CCTP
Pastoral Advocate
Our Lady of the Angels Province
12300 Folly Quarter Rd.
Ellicott City, MD 21042
(443) 462-7787