1993 Statement on Sexual Misconduct

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1993 Statement – PC(USA), pp. 572-574, 582

III. Meeting the Needs of All Involved
In cases of sexual misconduct there are needs that have to be met for the good of all persons, groups, and entities. To ensure that the governing body is ready to meet the variety of needs present, an independent response coordination team shall be named and its membership clearly publicized. This team will not investigate the allegation or in any way function as a special disciplinary committee, but should confine itself to coordinating a process that will meet the specific needs of the situation. In cases of sexual misconduct, these are the needs of accuser/victims and their families (if any), the accused and family (if any), employing entities, congregations, and governing bodies:
A. The Needs of the Accuser/Victim
The governing body, employing entity, and response management team shall assure that adequate treatment and care are available for alleged victims of sexual misconduct and their families. . . Above all the church should not act in a self-protective manner by ignoring the accuser/victim and their families.
The following are some of the needs of the accuser/victim:
– To be heard and taken seriously. . . .
– To receive pastoral and therapeutic support. . . .
– To be informed about church process and progress . . . .
– To receive legal advice. The response coordination team should suggest that the accuser/victim might benefit from independent legal advice. . . .
– To receive restitution. . . .
– To be assured that justice will be pursued. . . .
B. The Needs of the Accused
The governing body or entity shall offer treatment and care for the accused as well as alleged victims and families. If the accused is a minister, this is the responsibility of the committee on ministry (Book of Order, G- 11.0501).
When a person is acquitted of charges, it is important for the governing body or entity to see that the acquittal is disseminated as widely as possible within their power, unless doing so would further injure the person falsely [accused].
A church member or officer accused of sexual misconduct (the accused) usually has need of the following under this policy and its procedures document:
1. Information About the Charges
2. Legal Advice and Assistance
3. Personal Care
4. Assistance in Relating to Session and Congregation
5. Economic Security and Care for Family of Accused
V. Educating and Training
Since the issue of sexual misconduct has become an evermore present reality, there is an emerging need to educate and train a wide variety of persons. Persons needing this specific education include: ministers; volunteers; officers; nonprofessionals and professional staff; ministerial candidates; professions who will be working with this issue within the denomination; members of the congregation; and governing body staff including supervisors, employees, and stated clerks; and particularly response coordination team members (RCT).
Theological institutions should include material in their existing curriculum on sexual ethics including the appropriate use of ministerial power, the General Assembly policy and its procedures on sexual misconduct, and other resources. It is further urged that the appropriate presbytery committee(s) include training for inquirers, candidates, newly ordained pastors, and new pastors to their presbyteries regarding sexual misconduct, especially including education on their specific policy and procedures.
Employing entities need to make sure all employees are well acquainted with, understand, and abide by their policy and procedures.
Employing entities should offer additional training and resources, such as: a workshop during staff meeting; lunchtime discussion group; articles and books made available; etc.
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