D037 Amend Canon IV.11.2 Of Investigations

The Conference Panel (Canon IV.12) is the first opportunity provided to the Respondent to hear the charges against them.  There is the assumption that the Conference Panel is informal and that the matter has not yet reached either a public or legal status, or that there exist no outside ongoing or potential criminal charges or investigation.  However, once a ‘mandated’ report is made to the local civil authorities, the Respondent becomes subject to possible criminal prosecution, and their constitutional rights are jeopardized within a Title IV system that is unprepared to protect the Respondent’s constitutional rights (see Canon IV.19.1).  Title IV matters involving mandated reporting or alleged criminal activity must be treated differently than other Title IV matters in this regard. 

Under circumstances of possible criminal prosecution, the Title IV investigation should be suspended until the police have completed their investigation.  The Church is not in the business of doing the police’s work.  Sworn testimonies should be left for the police to obtain since the Church has no way of following through on such testimonies.  If, however, a Church Attorney wishes to obtain a sworn testimony for their own record, the sworn testimony should not be forwarded to the civil authorities unless the Church wishes to suspend the Title IV investigation and await police investigation.  An adjudicating diocese can derail the Title IV process when the Church Attorney goes outside the canons to involve outside agencies who can bring charges against a Respondent.  Once the Church has reported an alleged complaint to the civil authorities, while “nothing in this Title shall be construed as requiring any Respondent to be represented by counsel” (Canon IV.19.12), certainly any alleged criminal charge will require the Respondent to obtain legal counsel and thereby proceed outside the intention of Title IV proceedings.