Revised Policy on Sexual Misconduct by Clergy (the “Policy”)
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The Orthodox Church cannot and will not tolerate sexual misconduct by its clergy. Our faithful must have a safe place for themselves and their families to worship and praise the Lord our God in peace. All members of Christ’s body are charged with protecting against such conduct, and there is no situation in which a member of the Church, on learning of any case of sexual misconduct by its clergy, may fail immediately to report it to the civil authorities and to the Archdiocese as set forth below.
The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America (the "Archdiocese”), to the extent consistent with its status as a religious corporation of the State of New York, together with each Metropolis of the Archdiocese and the Direct Archdiocesan District, is committed to compliance with applicable state and Federal law. To the extent any applicable law imposes more stringent requirements than the Policy, the Archdiocese, each Metropolis and the Direct Archdiocesan District will, to the extent it is consistent with their constitutionally protected freedom from governmental interference, comply with such law. In addition, the Archdiocese, each Metropolis and the Direct Archdiocesan District recognize that it is in the best interests of the Church to promote transparency and high standards of conduct and ethics.
This Policy applies to all Hierarchs, Priests, Deacons, Nuns and Monks of the Archdiocese (collectively referred to herein as “Clergy”) serving in: (i) the Archdiocese; (ii) the Direct Archdiocesan District (“DAD”); (iii) the Metropolises of the Archdiocese; (iv) the parishes, monasteries, schools, camps, and retreat centers of the Archdiocese; or (v) the Archdiocese-affiliated entities, including, but not limited to Hellenic College/Holy Cross School of Theology, St. Basil’s Academy, and St. Photios National Shrine (“Archdiocese Affiliates”) (entities listed in (ii)-(v), collectively referred to herein as the “Individual Archdiocesan Entities”).
To this end, subject to the limitations set forth below, it is the responsibility of all Clergy to comply with this Policy and all statutes, rules, and regulations of applicable governing authority, and to report violations or suspected violations in accordance with this Policy. For ease of reference, this Policy shall be posted on the Archdiocesan website at www.goarch.org.
The Archdiocese and Individual Archdiocesan Entities are committed to combating sexual misconduct, harassment and abuse by Clergy (individually and collectively, “Sexual Misconduct”) in order to provide all members of our community with a respectful and safe environment to congregate, worship and learn. The Archdiocese mandates a zero-tolerance policy for acts or threats of acts of Sexual Misconduct or abuse within the Archdiocese and all related missions and entities.
A. The Archdiocese recognizes that Sexual Misconduct by Clergy can have devastating consequences for any person who is the subject of any Sexual Misconduct (“Abused Person”) and his or her family, for the Church community at large, and for all individuals involved. The Archdiocese therefore mandates that this Policy be adopted by all parishes, communities and related missions of the Archdiocese.
B. The Policy constitutes the mandatory requirements of the Archdiocese and each Individual Archdiocesan Entity, including the Archdiocesan Affiliates that so adopt them. Nothing herein prevents any Individual Archdiocesan Entity from adopting additional policies, standards, or procedures in furtherance of this Policy. Further, it is expected that the Archdiocese and each Individual Archdiocesan Entity comply with all applicable legal obligations in reporting and addressing incidents of Sexual Misconduct.
C. The Archdiocese will not tolerate Sexual Misconduct. It shall:
1. Develop and implement training that educates Clergy on issues related to Sexual Misconduct, including reporting and prevention.
2. Foster a climate in which training is taken seriously and in which expectations for Clergy are explicitly communicated, adopted and implemented.
3. Encourage and facilitate reporting by those who are subjected to Sexual Misconduct as well as by those who witness such acts.
4. Continue to provide safe and effective methods to report Sexual Misconduct.
5. State clearly and closely follow procedures that balance due process rights, civil authority obligations and canon law dictates within the scope of the Church’s constitutionally protected rights.
6. Be as transparent as possible about how reports of Sexual Misconduct are handled.
II. Defining Sexual Misconduct
Sexual Misconduct shall include:
A. Sexual contact or conduct by Clergy with any minor or person of diminished decision-making capacity.
B. Sexual contact or conduct by Clergy with any person, other than his spouse, with whom the Clergy has a professional, pastoral relationship.
C. Sexual contact or conduct by Clergy with any person, other than his spouse, whom the Clergy member supervises, teaches, or counsels.
D. Sexual harassment by Clergy which includes, but is not limited to, unwelcome and/or unsolicited sexual advances; efforts to extract a “quid pro quo” from another as related to sexual contact or activity; request for sexual favors; and other undesired verbal, visual, or physical conduct of a sexual or prurient nature. In particular, sexual harassment by Clergy occurs if there is:
1. Submission to any kind of sexual harassment by Clergy as an explicit or implicit term or condition of employment, participation in community activities, or which inhibits a victim’s opportunity to participate or volunteer.
2. Submission, to or rejection of, sexually harassing behavior by Clergy if used as a basis for employment, participation in community activities, or which inhibits a victim's opportunities to participate or volunteer.
3. Conduct by Clergy of a sexual or prurient nature that has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance or ability to participate in other community activities, or that creates a hostile or offensive working environment.
4. Verbal harassment or abuse by Clergy of a sexual or prurient nature.
5. Pressure by Clergy for sexual activity.
6. Remarks by Clergy to a person with sexual implications.
7. Unwelcomed, inappropriate touching by Clergy of a sexual nature.
8. Suggesting or demanding sexual activity accompanied by implied or explicit threats by Clergy concerning one’s job, volunteer position, reputation, or participation in community activities, etc.
9. The dissemination by Clergy of material (such as cartoons, articles, pictures, etc.) which has illicit, pornographic, prurient, obscene and/or sexual content.
A. Global Standards
1. The Archdiocese will not condone Sexual Misconduct and is committed to the prevention of Sexual Misconduct by ongoing educational programs and by publicizing the Archdiocese’s concerns regarding Sexual Misconduct through appropriate channels.
2. The Archdiocese will provide Clergy with ongoing training and education regarding the avoidance and prevention of Sexual Misconduct.
B. Standards of Conduct
1. No member of the Clergy shall commit, attempt to commit, engage in, facilitate, or condone any act of Sexual Misconduct.
2. No member of the Clergy shall ignore, suppress, or fail to report any act of Sexual Misconduct of which he becomes aware, including, but not limited to, law enforcement.
3. No member of the Clergy shall improperly use or exploit his office in connection with his sexual or emotional needs or desires.
4. Clergy shall at all times take measures to avoid inappropriate behavior that could lead to Sexual Misconduct and/or inappropriate behavior inconsistent with the Church’s canons and teachings, as well as those imposed by law.
5. Any member of the Clergy who finds himself at risk of probable acts of Sexual Misconduct in response to an inappropriate sexual or romantic attraction or impulse, or for any other reason, shall immediately seek counsel and pastoral guidance from an individual trained and experienced in providing appropriate counseling and guidance. However, the seeking of such counseling or pastoral guidance shall not be deemed to excuse or ameliorate any prior or subsequent violation of this Policy.
6. Clergy who are involved in any way in matters involving alleged Sexual Misconduct shall, subject to the limitations herein, cooperate fully with all reviews and investigations by or on behalf civil authorities (including law enforcement), the Archdiocese, the respective Metropolis, or their respective designees.
C. Screening Standards and Procedures for Clergy
1. The Archdiocese shall conduct a background screening by a trained and experienced psychologist for (i) all persons who seek admission to a Greek Orthodox Seminary; (ii) for all men who seek to be ordained to the Holy Priesthood or Holy Diaconate; and (iii) all Clergy who seek to be received into the Archdiocese by way of transfer or reassignment (each such person in subparagraphs (i) – (iii) herein, are a “Clergy Applicant”).
2. Each Clergy Applicant must complete an application form and a criminal record check authorization form and shall also provide a set of fingerprints and any other information necessary to perform its background check. Each Clergy Applicant shall have a letter of recommendation from every one of his Parish Priests for the five (5) years prior to his application to the seminary. Each Clergy shall have a letter of recommendation from his Hierarch that includes a recommendation of acceptance and a certification from the Hierarch that, following a review by the Hierarch or his appointee, the Clergy has not been the subject of any Sexual Misconduct complaint and the candidate is of the character and standards befitting a Clergy in good standing. The complete personnel file for each Clergy who seeks to be received into the Archdiocese shall be reviewed, copied and made a part of the Clergy Applicant’s file. All Clergy Applicants shall be interviewed personally by the Chancellor. All Clergy Applicants shall submit to a clinical examination by a trained and experienced professional.
3. The Archdiocese shall contact each reference listed by the Clergy Applicant on the screening form and make a written record of each contact showing the date and method of contact, the person making the contact, the person contacted, and a summary of the information received. Without exception, a criminal records check shall be made and received from each State and local jurisdiction and foreign jurisdiction where the Clergy Applicant has resided following the Clergy Applicant’s 18th birthday. The Clergy Applicant shall provide fingerprints and/or any other identifying information or authorizations necessary to obtain any records or information deemed necessary for a background check. The Clergy Applicant may be required to pay any costs associated with the background check. A written record of all information described in this paragraph, along with application forms and authorization forms for reference checks and criminal records check, shall be placed in the Clergy Applicant’s file. If the church or person contacted refuses to provide information, such person should be informed of the release language in the application signed by the Clergy Applicant. If the person continues to refuse to provide information, such refusal should be documented in the file and the Clergy Applicant be advised that the application cannot be processed until the requested information is received.
4. No person shall be admitted to the seminary, ordained, or otherwise received as Clergy in any capacity if he: (i) has been convicted or has pleaded guilty to any violation of law involving any type of abuse; (ii has been diagnosed with Paraphilia (specified or not otherwise specified as defined by the American Psychiatric Association); (iii) has previously committed acts of Sexual Misconduct; or (iv) has been removed from his position as a Clergy as a result of a decision under these or any similar Policies, Standards, or Procedures of this or any other Orthodox jurisdiction or Christian denomination.
A. Reporting Sexual Misconduct
1. A “Complainant” means any person who reports Sexual Misconduct to the Archdiocese. The Complainant may or may not be an “Abused Person.” Complaints may be submitted anonymously at the discretion of the Complainant, but must contain sufficient detail to investigate, including the nature of the offense and identities of the alleged Abused Person(s), if known, and the alleged responsible individuals.
2. Complaints of Sexual Misconduct shall be submitted to a third-party service, the contact information for which will be published widely (the "Reporting Service"). The Reporting Service will then report such claims immediately to the Archdiocesan Chancellor and Archdiocesan General Counsel. In the event that the Archdiocesan Chancellor is the alleged perpetrator of the Sexual Misconduct at issue, the Reporting Service shall report such claims only to the Archdiocesan General Counsel. In addition, the Reporting Service will provide on a quarterly basis, summary information regarding complaints of Sexual Misconduct to the Archdiocesan Executive Committee, excluding any member of the Archdiocesan Executive Committee who might be an alleged perpetrator of the Sexual Misconduct at issue.
3. Any person who: (i) knows or credibly suspects that any Clergy may have been involved in Sexual Misconduct; or (ii) perceives or believes that particular conduct or verbal/non-verbal behavior of a Clergy may constitute Sexual Misconduct, must report such information immediately to the applicable civil authorities and to the Archdiocese as follows. First, a report must be submitted to the applicable civil authorities, including local, county, state, federal or other law enforcement, social services, or other outside agencies (the “Authorities''). Second, a separate report of such information must be submitted to the Archdiocese via the Reporting Service. The report to the Archdiocese via the Reporting Service shall include the details of the report to the Authorities, including the identity and contact information of the person who received the report and time of the reporting.
4. All reports of Sexual Misconduct must include the name of the alleged Abused Person(s), if known, and/or other identifying information, and the name and other identifying information of the Individual(s) alleged to have been involved in Sexual Misconduct. The Complainant may choose to remain anonymous, but in such case, the Complainant should be made aware that his or her anonymity may impede or prevent an investigation of the alleged Sexual Misconduct.
5. The Archdiocesan Chancellor or Archdiocesan General Counsel must inform the Complainant that the Archdiocese and the Individual Archdiocesan Entities do not tolerate Sexual Misconduct, provide this Policy to the Complainant and also supply to the Complainant information of the investigation process outlined herein. In the event the Archdiocesan Chancellor is an alleged perpetrator of the Sexual Misconduct at issue, such informational contact to the Complainant shall be made only by the Archdiocesan General Counsel.
6. Retaliation against an Abused Person or anyone who, in good faith, has made a complaint, or a report, or participated in an investigation under this Policy is prohibited. Complaints or reports of retaliation must be made in the same manner as a complaint or report of Sexual Misconduct.
7. Upon receipt of a report from the Reporting Service of Sexual Misconduct, the Archdiocesan General Counsel and the Archdiocesan Chancellor, shall immediately confirm that a report has been filed with the Authorities. If no such report has been filed, Archdiocesan General Counsel and the Archdiocesan Chancellor, shall immediately file a report with the Authorities.
8. The Archdiocesan Chancellor and Archdiocesan General Counsel shall provide immediate notice of allegations of Sexual Misconduct as follows:
For Complaints involving:
Archbishop and Vice President of the Archdiocesan Council
Archbishop and Vice President of the DAD Council
Metropolises / parishes / monasteries
Metropolitan and Vice President of the Metropolis Council
Archbishop and chairperson of the Board of Directors
In addition to the foregoing, the Archdiocesan Chancellor and Archdiocesan General Counsel will also disclose allegations of Sexual Misconduct to the specific Individual Archdiocesan Entity where the Sexual Misconduct was alleged to have occurred and, if different, every Individual Archdiocesan Entity where the alleged abuser (“Respondent”) was ever employed or engaged. In consultation with the Authorities, the Archdiocesan Chancellor and Archdiocesan General Counsel, each such Individual Archdiocesan Entity shall then convey the disclosure to its parishioners, employees, students, and other individuals, as applicable. Such disclosure shall have sufficient detail about the complaint to facilitate other Abused Persons or witnesses, if any, to come forward with relevant information. The Archdiocesan Chancellor will inform the Respondent. If the Archdiocesan Chancellor is the Respondent, the Archdiocesan General Counsel will inform him of the complaint.
9. The disclosure made pursuant to the foregoing paragraphs will include the name of the accused and sufficient details to allow other victims to come forward. It shall not include the name of the Complainant or Abused Person unless such individual(s) has/have consented to the disclosure or unless his/her/their name(s) have become a matter of public record through an independent means, not through the actions of the Archdiocese or Individual Archdiocesan Entity.
10. It shall be within the discretion of the Archdiocesan Chancellor and Archdiocesan General Counsel to place Respondent on administrative leave pending the conclusion of the investigation by the Authorities, the Initial Investigation or the Independent Investigation as defined below, whichever is longer. Such leave does not constitute an acceptance of the veracity of the allegations but is designed to protect all parties involved. Recognizing the serious nature of such an administrative leave, the Archdiocesan General Counsel and the Archdiocesan Chancellor shall carefully exercise their discretion in implementing such administrative leave. In the event that the Archdiocesan General Counsel and the Archdiocesan Chancellor either decline to place Respondent on administrative leave or are unable to agree regarding administrative leave for the Respondent, then the Archdiocesan Executive Committee shall within 10 days of such event determine whether administrative leave for Respondent is appropriate. During the first 60 days of any such administrative leave, the Respondent shall continue to be paid his compensation by the Individual Archdiocesan Entity paying him at the time of his administrative leave. In the event the administrative leave extends beyond 60 days, such Individual Archdiocesan Entity may continue compensation payments at its discretion.
11. This policy is not intended to replace or change any legal reporting obligations. Therefore, conduct required by law to be reported by the Complainant to local, county, state, federal or other law enforcement, social services, or other outside agencies shall be reported, as applicable. Legally required reporting does not obviate the other required reporting in this section; nor does reporting to the Archdiocese satisfy a person’s mandated reporting obligation required by law.
1. All complaints involving Sexual Misconduct shall be referred to the Authorities for investigation. Any report or conclusions reached from the Authorities shall be provided to the Archdiocesan Chancellor and Archdiocesan General Counsel who shall provide it to the Executive Committee pursuant to paragraph 11 herein.
2. If for any reason, the Authorities decline to investigate or prosecute any complaint involving Sexual Misconduct, the Archdiocesan Chancellor and Archdiocesan General Counsel shall conduct an initial inquiry (the “Initial Inquiry”) to determine whether a reasonable basis exists for conducting additional investigation. No reasonable basis shall exist when the Initial Inquiry determines that the complaint is manifestly false, baseless, or frivolous.
3. Following the determination of a reasonable basis, complaints involving Sexual Misconduct will be investigated by an external independent investigator retained by the Archdiocese to conduct an investigation (the “Independent Investigation”). The external investigator shall consist of experienced investigator(s) with no connection or association to any of the persons or entities involved in the alleged Sexual Misconduct. The Archdiocese and each applicable Individual Archdiocesan Entity shall cooperate fully with that Independent Investigation to provide access to records or witnesses as may be required.
4. The Independent Investigation should be completed in a timely and expeditious manner. If the Respondent fails to fully cooperate with the Independent Investigation as determined by the external independent investigator conducting the Independent Investigation, the investigators may deem that the Respondent did not contest the allegations of Sexual Misconduct for purposes of the Independent Investigation.
5. It is the obligation of all Clergy and lay persons who have or may have information regarding the complaint to cooperate fully and completely with the Independent Investigation.
6. To the extent practicable under the circumstances, efforts will be made to maintain the confidences and privacy of the Abused Person, the Respondent, the Complainant, and other involved parties during the investigation.
7. In connection with the Independent Investigation, the Respondent shall be advised of the allegations complained against him or her and shall be provided an opportunity to answer the allegations during the Independent Investigation. The Respondent shall be required to provide the names of individuals or other documents believed, or known at that time, to have information that may be in support of the Respondent’s response.
8. The investigator(s) may interview, where appropriate in the investigator’s discretion, all individuals identified as having knowledge regarding the incident(s) under investigation and review any documentation provided. Before the investigation is completed by the investigator(s), the Respondent shall be provided an additional opportunity to respond to the allegations as well as to any questions that arose by the investigations and shall be afforded the opportunity to provide additional names of individuals and/or other evidence that may support the Respondent’s position. The investigator(s) may interview, where appropriate in the investigator’s discretion, all additional individuals named by the Respondent and review all additional evidence provided prior to concluding the investigation.
9. In the event the Respondent fails to respond to the allegations in the Complaint within the time allotted, including any reasonable extensions of time granted to the Respondent, the investigators may deem that the Respondent did not contest the allegations of Sexual Misconduct for purposes of the Independent Investigation.
10. The investigators shall report the results of the Independent Investigation as they are reached to the Archdiocesan Chancellor and Archdiocesan General Counsel
11. Upon receipt of the report or conclusions reached by the Authorities or, if applicable, the results of the Independent Investigation, the Archdiocesan Chancellor and Archdiocesan General Counsel shall provide a Final Report to the Archdiocesan Executive Committee that consists of the following:
a. The Complainant’s formal complaint, the Respondent’s response, and any amendments thereto;
b. A summary of the findings from the Independent Investigation and/or the Authorities;
c. A statement of any conclusions reached by the Archdiocesan Chancellor and the Archdiocesan General Counsel; and
d. Disclosure of disciplinary action as determined by the Archdiocesan Chancellor and the Archdiocesan General Counsel. In the event that the Archdiocesan General Counsel and the Archdiocesan Chancellor either decline to impose disciplinary action or are unable to agree regarding disciplinary action for the Respondent, then the Archdiocesan Executive Committee shall meet to determine the appropriate disciplinary action, if any.
A copy of the Final Report shall also be provided as follows:
For Complaints involving:
Archbishop and Vice President of the Archdiocesan Council
Archbishop and Vice President of the DAD Council
Metropolises / parishes / monasteries
Metropolitan and Vice President of the Metropolis Council
Archbishop and chairperson of the Board of Directors
12. If the Allegations are substantiated either by the Authorities or the Independent Investigation, the Archdiocesan General Counsel, the Archdiocesan Chancellor and the applicable Metropolis Chancellor, if any, shall take the following steps:
a. To the extent it has not been done, file a report to the Authorities, including all applicable law enforcement or social service agencies.
b. Place copies of the decisions on the allegations and on the disciplinary action in the case file. The Respondent’s Metropolis will maintain a copy that should be kept in a secure location.
c. Meet with the Abused Person, and in the case of a minor, the individual’s parent or guardian, explain the outcome of the Independent Investigation including any disciplinary action taken against the Respondent, and offer the Abused Person appropriate assistance to cope with the aftermath of the abuse.
d. Meet with the Respondent and advise the Respondent of the actions the Archdiocese or Metropolis, as applicable, intends to take, and discuss the Respondent’s pastoral, rehabilitative, and clinical needs.
e. Make an appropriate disclosure within the Archdiocese or Individual Archdiocesan Entity preparing the way for pastoral attention within the communities of the affected Archdiocese or Individual Archdiocesan Entity.
f. The Respondent shall be referred to a Spiritual Court. In such an event, the Clergy shall remain on administrative leave and any compensation payments, if not already terminated, shall cease.
13. If the Allegations are not substantiated, the applicable Archdiocesan Chancellor or Metropolis Chancellor shall take the following steps:
a. Advise the Abused Person and Respondent of the decision.
b. Provide notice to the affected Individual Archdiocesan Entity that the allegations have not been substantiated. The Individual Archdiocesan Entity may convey the disclosure to its parishioners, employees, students, and other individuals, as it deems appropriate.
c. Place copies of the decisions on the allegations in the case file. The Respondent’s Metropolis will maintain a copy that should be kept in a secure location.
d. Meet, through a representative, with the alleged Abused Person to offer pastoral or other assistance.
VI. Hearing by Spiritual Court
1. In the event that: (a) the Clergy has admitted to any of the allegations of Sexual Misconduct; (b) the Archbishop, Archdiocesan Chancellor or the applicable Metropolis Chancellor believes, in his discretion, that the Clergy poses a threat of harm to the members of his parish and/or to the public in general; and/or (c) the Independent Investigation suggests that there is any reasonable possibility that Sexual Misconduct has occurred, a Spiritual Court shall be convened in accordance with the Holy Traditions and canons of the Church and the Archdiocesan Charter. The Archdiocesan Chancellor shall refer the matter to the appropriate Metropolitan, together with the recommendations of the Archdiocesan Chancellor or the applicable Metropolis Chancellor regarding further action.
2. When a Spiritual Court is convened, the Clergy Respondent should be invited to attend the hearing, which shall generally be conducted in accordance with canon law, the Archdiocesan Charter and Holy Tradition. In the event that the accused is a bishop, the hearing shall be conducted by the Synod of Bishops of the Archdiocese or by the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, as may be required under canon law. The Archdiocesan Chancellor or the applicable Metropolis Chancellor shall be responsible for making a comprehensive presentation of the results of the Independent Investigation to the Spiritual Court.
3. The Spiritual Court shall impose penalties in accordance with canon law, the Archdiocesan Charter and Holy Tradition, up to and including, dismissal from the Clergy. These penalties shall be communicated to all involved Individual Archdiocesan Entities. The Archdiocese will attempt to assist the Complainant, the Abused Person, the Abused Person’s family, the affected Clergy and others, as may be appropriate, in accessing pastoral care.
VII. Scope of Policy
1. Nothing in this Policy is in derogation of, or an abdication by the Archdiocese or any of the Individual Archdiocesan Entities of the Church's constitutionally protected freedom from governmental interference. Pastoral care and leadership in the case of alleged Sexual Misconduct (including, but not limited to, the decision of which persons may or may not serve as Clergy) is an act of ministry and, as such, is a constitutionally protected act. Nothing herein is intended to diminish these freedoms in any respect or to create any legal rights or responsibilities upon the Archdiocese, any Individual Archdiocesan Entity or any of their respective representatives.
2. The Archdiocese will attempt to assist the Complainant, the Abused Person, the Abused Person's family, the affected Clergy and others, as may be appropriate, in accessing pastoral care. However, the Archbishop, appropriate Metropolitan and/or Metropolis Chancellor and their respective representatives who are involved with the investigation shall not be deemed to function as confessors, counselors, advocates, attorneys, or fiduciaries to any of these individuals.
3. This Policy may be amended, from time to time. Revisions to the Policy shall be communicated as described in this Policy.
Revised: January 2022
 The Archdiocese Affiliates are separate entities that are each governed by a separate board of directors. The Archdiocese encourages the Archdiocese Affiliates to formally adopt this Policy and to facilitate its application to Clergy serving there by broadly publishing it.
 In the event that the position of Archdiocesan General Counsel is vacant, then the responsibilities of the Archdiocesan General Counsel hereunder shall fall to the chair of the Archdiocesan Legal Committee.