Allegations Against Clergy, Religious, Lay Personnel or Volunteers
The Diocese of Great Falls-Billings is firmly committed to the health and protection of our children and young persons.
Reports of abuse are received either directly from an alleged victim or through a third-party (e.g., attorney, relative, counselor, etc.).
- The alleged victim may be alive or deceased. The alleged perpetrator may be alive or deceased. The statute of limitations may be an issue regarding litigation in certain cases.
- An alleged victim can pursue the matter or just report it and take no other action.
- The alleged victim may remain anonymous, but this may limit the ability of the diocese to respond satisfactorily.
- Both alleged abusers and alleged victims have rights and obligations (see elsewhere on this website).
- All information received will be treated with confidentiality.
- All alleged victims are advised of their right to report the alleged abuse to public authorities.
To report allegations of sexual abuse of children and young persons, or to obtain information regarding the USCCB document “Charter and Norms,” please contact Teresa Schmit, Victim Assistance Coordinator, P O Box 1399, Great Falls, MT, 59403- 1399, by e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone, 406-750-2373. These are available 24/7.
Pursuant to diocesan policy, all complaints of sexual abuse involving priests, religious, employees and volunteers serving the Diocese of Great Falls-Billings will be investigated by an outside investigator hired by the diocese.
Allegations Against Bishops
Nationwide Service to Report Sexual Misconduct Involving U.S. Bishops
Darren Eultgen, Chancellor
In May 2019, Pope Francis released his apostolic letter, Vos estis lux mundi (“You are the light of the world”) to address the issue of sexual abuse and bishop accountability in the global Catholic Church. Vos estis calls upon the metropolitan archbishops to undertake the responsibilities for receiving and assessing reports involving bishops that pertain to sexual abuse and related misconduct. In June 2019, one month after Pope Francis issued his order, the bishops of the United States convened for their general assembly in Baltimore and approved the implementation plan for carrying out the directives of the Holy Father here in the United States. As part of this ongoing commitment to carrying out Vos estis, the Catholic Bishop Abuse Reporting Service (CBAR) was established. The service is operated by Convercent, Inc. an independent, third-party entity that provides intake services to private institutions for reports of sensitive topics such as sexual harassment through a secure, confidential, and professional platform.
Individuals may go to ReportBishopAbuse.org in order to make a report. Reports are also accepted via (800) 276-1562. When a report is received, it will be forwarded to the local metropolitan archbishop who will undertake the responsibility of initially assessing the report. Archbishop Alexander K. Sample of the Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon is the metropolitan who presides over this province, which includes the following dioceses: Portland, Oregon; Baker, Oregon; Boise, Idaho; Helena, Montana and Great Fall-Billings, Montana. In the event that a report is received that concerns the metropolitan archbishop, it will be forwarded to Bishop Michael W. Warfel of the Diocese of Great Fall-Billings, who is the senior suffragan bishop of this local province.
The Catholic Bishop Abuse Reporting service allows individuals to relay to Church authorities any reports of a U.S. Catholic bishop who has:
- forced someone to perform or to submit to sexual acts
- performed sexual acts with a minor or a vulnerable person;
- produced, exhibited, possessed, or distributed child pornography, or recruited or induced a minor or a vulnerable person to participate in pornographic exhibitions;
- or, a diocesan or eparchial bishop, or a cleric overseeing a diocese/eparchy in the absence of a diocesan or eparchial bishop, who has intentionally interfered with a civil or church investigation into allegations of sexual abuse committed by another cleric or religious.
The Catholic Bishop Abuse Reporting Service (CBAR) does not replace existing reporting systems for complaints against priests, deacons, religious or laity. CBAR was designed to respond only to complaints against bishops for issues related to sexual misconduct. The reporting of sexual misconduct by anyone in diocesan ministry who is not a bishop, such as priests, deacons, religious brothers and sisters, or lay persons working or volunteering for the Church should continue to be handled in accordance with the Diocese of Great Falls-Billings’ Child Protection Policy and with proper civil authorities.
For more information on the reporting service and how it works, please visit: ReportBishopAbuse.org. While the mandate by Pope Francis in Vos estis echoes many of the practices that the Catholic Church in the United States has already implemented since 2002 with the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, this new order applies to the bishops and to the worldwide Catholic Church, making clear the pope’s concern of the issue of sexual abuse in the Church at a global level.