I. Organization of the Board
The External Review Board was formed in June, 2003 as part of a settlement. The original composition of the Board was made up of four members selected by Jeffrey Anderson and four members selected by Abbot John Klassen. The eight-member Board then selected a ninth Board member. The Board has membership representing survivors, the criminal justice system, the mental health profession and the monastery.
The Board has met monthly for the past year. Board Member David Baraga was reelected chair of the Board in June, 2004. Barbara Illsley was reelected vice-chair of the Board at the same time. Both terms were for an additional one year term.
In September, Board Member Janet Robert resigned. The Board and Abbot John conducted a search for a new member and in November, Tom Frost was elected unanimously to fill Janet’s term. He was appointed in January 2005.
The Board continued its efforts to finalize its By-Laws, which continued to go through a series of revisions in consultations between Board members and the Abbot and Senior Council. The Board also created a Governance Committee to address issues related to the organization, structure and functioning of the Board.
II. Key Issues
A. Assessment and Supervision of Monk Offenders: One of the priorities for the Board this year was the identification, assessment and safety planning for monk offenders. Throughout the year, the Board worked with the Abbot to identify all monk offenders. The Abbey contracted with Project Pathfinder, Inc. to assess each monk offender and to develop safety plans that were received by the Abbot and were also reviewed by the External Review Board. Assessments were completed in May, 2005, and assessment summaries along with safety plan recommendations were presented to the Board in June, 2005.
B. Victim Assistance Services: One of the priorities this year was to put in place victim assistance services for victims. The Victims Assistance Committee developed the specifications for victim assistance services and submitted to the Abbot for the purpose of developing an RFP. The RFP was developed and sent out. In addition, the Restorative Justice Council made a presentation to the full Board on case management, preparation of a victim’s handbook and mediation services. In addition, several victim contacts were made and reviewed by the Board, with recommendations to the Abbot.
C. Development of Annual Goals: The Board undertook an initiative to develop goals for the next year. Each subcommittee developed goals pertinent to their work. The Board adopted the goals at their May meeting.
D. Board By-laws: The Board continued to work with the Abbot to finalize the Board’s By-Laws. The Board and Abbot with consultation with the Senior Council are close to finalizing the By-Laws for the Board.
E. Review of the Praesidium Policy and Development of Saint John’s Policy on Sexual Misconduct: The Board conducted an in depth review of the Praesidium Policy and Saint John’s Policy on Sexual Misconduct and made substantial recommendations for changes and/or additions.
Victims Assistance Committee: Committee membership included Susan Fuchs-Hoeschen, chair, Charles A. Flinn, Jr., and Patrick Marker. The Victims Assistance Committee serves the External Review Board and guides the Abbey to provide compassionate response to victims. To this end, the committee in the past year:
Continued to work with the Board and the Abbot to finalize the position description for the Victims Assistance Coordinator and begin the process for hiring.
Worked to finalize a letter to Alumni regarding past sexual abuse, sexual misconduct and/or boundary violations at the various Saint John’s institutions that will be mailed after the Victims Assistance Coordinator position has been filled.
A member of the committee on its behalf participated in a meeting with a victim and the Abbot and had phone contact with another victim.
Arranged for a presentation by the Restorative Justice Council to the full Board as a possible resource for case management for victims, preparation of a victim’s handbook and mediation with victims.
Is working to develop a matrix of current offenders.
Investigative Committee: Membership included Barbara Illsley, chair, David Baraga, Dave Farrington and Patrick Marker. The Investigative Committee was formed to direct impartial investigations of allegations brought forward of sexual misconduct. To this end, the committee this year:
Reviewed several incidents of sexual misconduct brought forward to the board. In two situations, the Abbey and/or the University had directed an investigation and Board members were notified after the investigation was completed and the monk offender was participating in/completed treatment.
The committee developed goals related to monk offender assessment, supervision and safety planning. These goals were included in the Board’s goals for the coming year.
Governance Committee: Committee membership includes Tom Frost, chair, Catherine Lally and Barbara Illsley. In April the Board formed a Governance committee. The purpose of the committee is to review the organization and functioning of the Board and make recommendations to the Board as appropriate. This year, the committee has:
Reviewed and recommended the terms of Board members be changed with the goal to stagger terms.
Developed goals addressing the issue of the role of the External Review Board. At the June, 2005, meeting, the Board had an extended conversation regarding this issue. A consensus developed that although the Board is advisory to the Abbot, the Board is accountable to the community at large. A tension will always exist between these two responsibilities. Given the public accountability developed through the creation of the Board as part of the settlement of the lawsuit, strong incentives were in place for the Abbot to take the Board’s advice.
Education and Prevention Committee: Committee membership includes Catherine Lally, chair, Dale Launderville OSB, Janet Robert/Tom Frost. The Education and Prevention Committee works to coordinate with all institutions operated by Saint John’s Abbey to promote healthy human sexual development for individuals, relationships, and the community’s cultural milieu. To this end, this year the committee:
Established goals, objectives and strategies for the Committee.
Explored the implications of disclosure to the monastic community of substantiated reports of sexual misconduct by a monk, recommended disclosure, and developed a rationale for disclosure to the monastic community of incidents of sexual misconduct.
Explored the culturally or systemic factors of monastic life that may enable boundary violations and sexual abuse in consultation with select monastic members.
Contacted the Corporate Sexual Offense Education and Policy Committee with the intention of receiving their annual report.
Report of External Review Board
Saint John’s Abbey