Confusion exists about how the current investigations are balancing confidentiality and due process. Investigations can benefit from receiving confidential disclosures, but there is a limit to how confidential information can be used in a potential future canonical process. Such processes give an accused the right to know the allegations against them which may require the inclusion of names and identifying information. Good investigations balance these dual objectives. At the request of some survivors, adjustments were made to reassure those considering whether to participate in the process. In early April, the Province asked Husch Blackwell to clarify confidentiality and, when requested, anonymity. Since then, Husch Blackwell has been communicating the following to those who come forward to participate:
Thank you very much for your inquiry about confidentiality and the extent to which your name or the information you disclose to us may be shared with others outside of our team at Husch Blackwell. We are extremely careful about confidentiality and privacy with respect to people who talk with us. The public report, by contract, will not include names or identifying information. A version of the report with unredacted names and information of those willing to participate in any disciplinary or other processes moving forward will be provided to the Provincial Investigative Team (see names here) who will keep the information in confidence to the greatest extent legally and canonically possible.
Provincial leadership understands the desire for anonymity and the choice that some victims and witnesses may make to remain anonymous beyond interactions with our team. For anyone who chooses this option, we will not share their name or identifying information about them with anyone outside of our Husch Blackwell team. Due to the realities of investigative processes, however, an individual’s decision to choose complete anonymity will limit the extent to which the information disclosed can be used in our investigative work. Further, the Church – whether the Province or the Diocese – cannot use anonymous information or accusations as a basis for disciplinary action against its clergy. Anyone choosing to remain completely anonymous should understand the limited extent to which our Husch Blackwell team or the Church could act upon the information they share with us.
This information has been updated on the FAQ page here.
We are also aware that this week a former member of the PRT repeated her previous accusations. As was previously stated, the other PRT members disagree with the assertions in her resignation letter and wish she had discussed those with the team before stepping down.