The Diocese learned from media sources today that the Attorney General of the State of West Virginia has filed a responsive pleading in the Circuit Court of Wood County, West Virginia. The new pleading is in response to the Diocese’s own motion to dismiss the Attorney General’s complaint, as submitted last month.
The new allegations filed today contain factual inaccuracies that are not included in the Attorney General’s prior complaint but which are, however, based in large part on information that the Diocese previously provided the Attorney General’s office. In the strongest terms, we deny the allegation that initial background checks were not conducted on school employees, as the amended complaint contends. We can only surmise that the Attorney General’s office has not thoroughly reviewed the information which has been provided by Diocesan officials to his office. As noted previously in the Diocese’s motion to dismiss the Attorney General’s lawsuit, it is our view that the West Virginia Consumer Credit Protection Act does not pertain to issues outlined in the complaint, and that the action is outside the jurisdiction of the Attorney General.
As legal counsel for the Diocese has made clear, we categorically reject the lawsuit’s assertion that the Diocese is not wholly committed to the protection of children, as reflected in our rigorous Safe Environment Program. The Diocese has a zero tolerance policy for any cleric, employee or volunteer credibly accused of abuse and it is the policy of the Diocese to report any accusation of this nature immediately to civil authorities. Moreover, the Safe Environment Program of the Diocese employs mandatory screening, extensive background checks and training for all employees and volunteers who work with children. Diocesan policy may be accessed at the following website: https://dwc.org/diocese/offices/office-of-safe-environment/diocesan-policy/