OCA Sexual Misconduct Policy Advisory Committee Meets

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Date Published: 05/27/2010

SYOSSET, NY [OCA] — Members of the recently formed Sexual Misconduct Policy Advisory Committee met at the Chancery of the Orthodox Church in America here May 19, 2010.

“The committee was created earlier this year by His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah to work with and assist the Office of Review of Sexual Misconduct Allegations,” according to Archpriest Alexander Garklavs, OCA Chancellor.

The office and committee are under the authority of the Metropolitan and chaired by the Chancellor.

Committee members began their meeting by holding with an extended and serious discussion about issues surrounding the implementation of the Church’s “Policies, Standards and Procedures.” Some proposals were made for improving the process of reporting individual parish’s implementation to the dioceses and the central Chancery. In addition to a review and discussion of other pertinent matters, the Committee continued its work on updating and revising the Church’s “Policies, Standards and Procedures on Sexual Misconduct.”

During the meeting the Committee also finalized its “Charter,” which was submitted to and approved by Metropolitan Jonah.

The following excerpts highlight the substance of the Charter and Committee’s authority, responsibility, and background.

The Committee is under the authority of the Metropolitan, and is chaired by the Chancellor of the Church, who is the day-to-day supervisor of the Office. The Committee operates in an advisory capacity only and does not assume any responsibility for the handling of sexual misconduct allegations, because that responsibility properly belongs to the Diocesan Hierarchs and the Office, according to the “Policies, Standards, and Procedures on Sexual Misconduct.” Committee members are appointed by the Metropolitan.
The complexity of sexual misconduct allegations requires a multi-dimensional awareness of issues and skills in various disciplines, so that allegations of misconduct may be considered from several perspectives — spiritually, ethically, legally, clinically as well as pastorally. Overlapping and interrelation between these disciplines can best be addressed by a team approach, such as via a standing advisory committee to assist the Metropolitan and the Office.
Among its duties, the Committee provides advice on how to improve both the content and effectiveness of the Church’s “Policies, Standards and Procedures;” assists in reviews of the extent to which the policies and procedures are implemented; assists in finding qualified professionals for investigations; assists in developing increased and improved training for clergy and applicable laypersons to enable a better understanding of their duties under the “Policies, Standards and Procedures;” and assists in any other requests made by the Metropolitan and the Office.
Other current committee members participating in the meeting were Archpriest Eric Tosi, OCA Secretary; Archpriests Theodore Bobosh and Michael Matsko; Protodeacon Peter Danilchick; Dr. Nikita Eike; and Mr. James Spencer, Esq.

The committee will meet again in the immediate future.