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Abuse Task Force Recommends Archdiocese Changes

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO/AP) – Findings released from the Twin Cities Catholic Archdiocese internal task force said “serious shortcomings” were found in the way the Archdiocese handled complaints of sexual abuse.

The task force, which was commissioned by the archdiocese and was formed last October, recommended several changes Monday.

Its six non-clergy members were chosen by Father Reginald Whitt, the Archdiocese Vicar of Ministerial Standards and a law professor at the University of St. Thomas.

While the report contains some sweeping criticisms of the Archdiocese, it also specifically blames one former high ranking church official.

While that official is not named it’s clear the report is referring to the former Vicar General Kevin McDonough.

For more than a decade Stillwater, Minn. native Father Kevin McDonough was in charge of the church’s internal investigations into allegations of abuse.

While not naming McDonough, the report refers to him on page nine by his job titles saying he “was allowed too much discretion in the handling of cases without oversight” and that “he sometimes failed to inform the clergy review board of allegations and violations of policy.”

The report does name McDonough when it says through his attorney he refused to be interviewed.

The report also criticizes the Archdiocese for “inadequate and nonexistent” communications with victims and parishioners,

The report concludes stating that, “a flawed organizational structure with little oversight and accountability created opportunities for some priests to harm children.”

A number of recommendations are detailed in the report, ranging from returning to a single internal review board with more non-clergy members to creating new policies to prevent the destruction of electronic and computer records.

The report also says the archdiocese should set up an anonymous hotline where suspected abuse can be reported.

Despite the criticisms leveled at the archdiocese the leader of SNAP, a national victims group, dismissed the task force findings.

“The crux of the crisis is that church officials are accountable to no one and they treat predators and victims in whatever way is the most expedient and convenient for them,” the director of SNAP, David Clohessy, said.

Father Reginald Whitt said in a statement that he was reviewing the task force report in order to implement its recommendations.

Father Kevin McDonough could not be reached for comment.

Archbishop Nienstedt has pledged to accept the task force recommendations and he released a statement saying he looks forward to their implementation.

The Archdiocese said in a statement there will be periodic public updates about the implementation.

(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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