Donald Trump

After ‘Summer of Hell' New York Cardinal Hires Former Judge to Review Church Sex Abuse Policies

What to Know

  • Cardinal Dolan announced the Archdiocese of NY hired a former federal judge to review procedures, protocols for handling abuse allegations
  • Barbara Jones, 71, left the Manhattan federal bench in 2013 and was a court-appointed special master in the recent Michael Cohen case
  • Dolan said he was ordering the review because Catholics have demanded "accountability, transparency" and "action" from church leadership

After what he called “the summer of hell” due to the sexual abuse scandals that have plagued the Catholic Church as a whole, Cardinal Timothy Dolan announced Thursday that the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York hired a former federal judge to review its procedures and protocols for handling allegations of sexual abuse.

Dolan announced the appointment of Barbara Jones, saying he was ordering the review because Catholics in New York have demanded "accountability, transparency" and "action" from church leadership.

He said that the recent news of sexual abuse, including the Pennsylvania grand jury report that detailed "horrific abuse of minors" by priests over the decades, "has left our people bewildered, frustrated and angry," as well as "faithful priests demoralized and us bishops somber and contrite."

Dolan said he has asked Jones to conduct an "exhaustive study of our policies, procedures and protocols on how we deal with any accusations that comes to us about an alleged abuse of a young person by a priest, deacon or a bishop."

Jones, 71, said the archdiocese already has a "robust infrastructure" to deal with the issue but she will evaluate its effectiveness, identify any deficiencies and report her findings directly to the cardinal.

Additionally, in a "going forward basis," Jones said she will also review the procedure followed in every new case of alleged abuse to ensure the archdiocese has followed its protocols."

The appointment comes after New York's attorney general announced that she was doing a comprehensive investigation of how the church and its leaders handled abuse allegations across the state.

Two years ago, the archdiocese announced a compensation fund for victims of clergy sex abuse willing to forego lawsuits. It has paid out about $60 million so far.

The Manhattan-based archdiocese is the nation's second biggest after Los Angeles.

Jones, who left the Manhattan federal bench in 2013, finished her work only weeks ago as a court-appointed special master identifying items subject to attorney-client privilege from over 4 million items seized in raids on Republican President Donald Trump's ex-personal lawyer, Michael Cohen.

Jones was an assistant U.S. attorney in Manhattan and chief assistant to former Manhattan District Attorney Robert M. Morgenthau before she was appointed to the bench in 1995 by President Bill Clinton. As a federal prosecutor, she served as chief of the Organized Crime Strike Force Unit.

After leaving the bench, she joined the law firm Bracewell, where she has specialized in white collar defense and internal investigations.

She has served repeatedly in roles calling for an outside independent monitor or arbiter.

In 2014, she said former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice could play football again after concluding that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell had made an "abuse of discretion" in suspending Rice indefinitely after video emerged of him hitting his wife in an elevator.

She also has served on a panel conducting a full-scale review of the New York City Police Department's discipline policies and was appointed as an independent external reviewer at the University of Michigan to decide student disciplinary actions under the school's policy and procedures on student sexual and gender based misconduct.

"I look forward to receiving your recommendations and your insights and I pledge that I’ll take them all with the utmost seriousness – and I want you to hold my feet to the fire if you feel that I’m not following through on the recommendations that you make," Dolan addressed Jones. "Most of all, I’m praying, that your careful review and hard questions will help my good people renew their trust in the church they love."

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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