PURPOSE

The Ecumenical Order of Charity (herein after "Order") expressly prohibits any misconduct on the part of our professed Companions, novices, postulants and Associates or any person using the mantel of authority from the Order. The Order cannot monitor the daily interaction between professed Companions, novices, postulants, Associates and any person who is a part of this organization and the general public, but can express our complete and utter prohibition against any inappropriate sexual activity by our professed Companions, novices, postulants and Associates or any person acting under the mantel of authority from the Order.

The purpose of this policy is to articulate the Order's abhorrence to sexual misconduct on the part of any professed Companion, novice, postulant, Associate or any person associated with this Order, to set out a process to permit any person who believes he/she has been a victim of sexual misconduct to report this information, and for Order officials to report information to law enforcement or any agency as deemed necessary.

While sexual misconduct is not supported under any Order doctrine or tenet, there may be a professed Companion, novice, postulant or Associate who does not act in accordance with his or her training or vows. The Order is not responsible for the sexual misconduct or any inappropriate sexual activity of our professed Companions, novices, postulants or Associates and has developed this policy to allow any person to notify Order officials of any allegation so that appropriate action can be taken. The Order takes all complaints about sexual misconduct on the part of a professed Companion, novice, postulant or Associate from the public seriously. All of the professed Companions, novices, postulants and Associates have been informed of this policy and the Order's intent to enforce it strictly. The Order has posted this policy on it's website, made this policy available to all professed Companions, novices, postulants and Associates and to all who desire a copy of this policy. The Order will also make mention of this policy in all newly created information about the Order. A copy of this policy will be sent to all new applicants to the Order.

   
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REPORTING PROCESS

Any person who has had any interaction with any Professed Companion, novice, postulant, Associate or person affiliated with the Order can and should report statements, acts or behavior that he/she believes may be inappropriate to Order officials in accordance with this policy. Sexual misconduct means that a professed Companion, novice, postulant or Associate engages in any of the following behaviors if they are UNWELCOME or UNSOLICITED: Statements to any person of any sex or age that are sexual in nature; an overt sexual gesture; attempting to grope, kiss, or touch another person; or attempting to engage in an unwelcome or unsolicited personal or sexual relationship. In addition engaging in any sexual behavior with any minor, welcome or otherwise, shall constitute sexual misconduct. This includes any acts of sexual deviancy, promiscuity, predatory sexual advances, pedophilia or any other form of sexual defilement.

In the event a person believes or suspects a professed Companion, novice, postulant or Associate may be or has violated this sexual misconduct policy, a complaint should be filed with the Director General of the Order as soon as possible at the following address:

Bro. Mark Elliott Newman, OC
Sophia House
12455 N. Columbine Drive
Phoenix, AZ 5029-2173
 
(602) 789-6251

The Order prefers that any complaint be made in writing to the Director General. However, if the person is unable to make a complaint in writing, then a telephone report may be made to the number listed. The person may report the complaint to any professed Companion, novice, postulant or Associate in the Order directly, as well. However, only complaints that are received by the Director General can be assured to receive a response in accordance with this sexual misconduct policy.

This policy applies specifically to sexual misconduct or inappropriate sexual activity. However, any time a person has a concern of any kind, he/she should bring the information forward to allow Order officials to respond. The Order encourages open and frank communication with all persons about any matter of concern.

When a complaint is received by a Professed Companion, novice, postulant or Associate or by any person or official connected with the Order, that person must and shall report the information to the Director General immediately. Immediately means as soon as possible, but in no event, not later than forty-eight hours from receipt of the allegation. The person receiving the complaint should write down the person's name, address, phone number, the date the incident allegedly took place, a description of the allegation and the best way to contact the person who claims to have been violated in any way.

It is not up to the professed Companion, novice, postulant or Associate receiving the complaint to verify the information or to conduct an investigation. The professed Companion, novice, postulant or Associate must report the information to the Director General. If the person reports the incident to the professed Companion, novice, postulant or Associate only and does not receive a response within three days, then he or she should report the allegation to the Director General at the address listed.

When the Director General receives a complaint about sexual misconduct, the professed Companion, novice, postulant or Associate accused is immediately notified and suspended from conducting any and all activities on behalf of the Order. The Director General will contact law enforcement or other appropriate agencies with the information, as soon as possible, but no later than forty eight hours from receipt of the allegation. Law enforcement must be notified before the Order starts its investigation. The only exception is for information received during the Sacrament of Reconciliation (confession) as provided in this policy.

The Order pledges its full cooperation with law enforcement or any appropriate agencies, except as provided in the exception for information received during the administration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Within seventy two hours of receipt of a complaint about sexual misconduct, the Director General will convene a Board of Inquiry consisting of the Director General and two professed Companions not named in the complaint. The Board of Inquiry may investigate the allegation to determine the guilt or innocence and the discipline of the accused in conformity with Order practice that is not necessarily in conformity with civil or criminal law. The investigation undertaken must be wide enough in scope to make a credible determination about whether the allegation has merit. The person or persons assigned to complete the investigation on behalf of the Order should be sensitive to the alleged victim when requesting information or a statement. The investigation should take sixty days from the date the Order officials receive the complaint. The investigation time period can be extended at the discretion of the Director General. The Order may be requested to defer their investigation upon the request of law enforcement. In those cases, the professed Companion, novice, postulant or Associate against whom the allegations are made may not assume any activity on behalf of the Order until the resolution of the investigation. In addition, the Order may delegate its investigatory authority to law enforcement and rely on their conclusions.

When the investigation is complete, the Board of Inquiry shall meet to determine what action should be taken against the offending professed Companion, novice, postulant or Associate. The Order may select any option pursuant to Order norms and practices. The person who made the complaint may request to appear before the Board of Inquiry to express his/her opinion or to offer any information. The Board of Inquiry may make a decision after hearing the information or may take the matter under advisement.

The Board of Inquiry will make every effort to make a decision as promptly as possible. The accused professed Companion, novice, postulant or Associate may not act under the authority of the Order or provide any service related to the Order during the investigation and until the decision from the Board of Inquiry is issued. The Board of Inquiry contacts the person, in writing, who made the allegations and informs him or her of the result of the investigation, and any sanction imposed in the event the allegations are substantiated. If the allegations are unsubstantiated, then the Board of Inquiry will not release the report to safeguard the reputation of the professed Companion, novice, postulant or Associate.

The Board of Inquiry's decision is final.

 

SACRAMENT OF RECONCILIATION

Although the Ecumenical Order of Charity is an independent, ecumenical Christian Order, the Order follows the Canon Law of the Roman Catholic Church for any information or conversation that occurs during the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The seal of confession is absolute. Nothing learned by any ordained clergy who is also a professed Companion, novice, postulant or Associate of the Order during the administration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation may be divulged to anyone for any purpose.

This means that any person who discloses any allegation of sexual misconduct against a professed Companion, novice, postulant, or Associate of the Order or makes an admission of sexual misconduct to a professed Companion, novice, postulant, or Associate of the Order who is also clergy during the Sacrament of Reconciliation cannot compel the individual who receives the information during the Sacrament of Reconciliation to divulge it. The professed Companion, novice, postulant or Associate who is also ordained clergy cannot under any circumstances speak to anyone, including law enforcement, about any matter that is disclosed during the administration of this Sacrament.

Accordingly, the reporting and investigation procedures are not applicable for any information concerning sexual misconduct or inappropriate sexual activity during the Sacrament of Reconciliation. This exception does not apply if a person receives spiritual counseling, spiritual direction or to any circumstances outside of the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

The Order is not responsible for the act or acts of any professed Companion, novice, postulant, Associate or person acting under the mantel of the authority of the Order. Any act of sexual misconduct or inappropriate sexual activity is an act that occurs outside the scope of employment, contract and duties required of any person affiliated with the Order. Every professed Companion, novice, postulant, Associate or person acting under the mantel of authority of the Order understands and agrees to hold the Order harmless and indemnify the Order from any and all action(s) arising from any allegation, investigation, indictment, criminal prosecution or dismissal from the Order resulting from act(s) of sexual misconduct or inappropriate sexual activity.

 

DIS-ASSOCIATION

If any professed Companion, novice, postulant, Associate or person acting under the mantel of the authority of the Order is convicted of an act of sexual misconduct or inappropriate sexual activity or has any allegation of sexual misconduct or inappropriate sexual activity substantiated through this policy, then he/she shall not hold himself or herself out as a member of the Order, perform any duties for the Order and may not in any way use any indicia of the Order for any purpose. The Board of Inquiry shall make all final decisions as to the status of the accused professed Companion, novice, postulant, or Associate after a final decision of guilty or exoneration has been rendered.

If any professed Companion, novice, postulant, Associate continues to hold himself or herself out as an active member of the Order or uses indicia of the Order for any purpose, then the Order reserves the right to take whatever steps are necessary to protect the interests of the Order.

If a professed Companion, novice, postulant, or Associate is convicted of a criminal offense, including a misdemeanor, for sexual misconduct or inappropriate sexual activity, then she or he may not petition to the Board of Inquiry for reinstatement. If the professed Companion, novice, postulant, or Associate is not convicted of a criminal offense, but has allegation(s) of sexual misconduct substantiated through the Order's investigation, then he may not petition the Board of Inquiry for reinstatement. If the professed Companion, novice, postulant or Associate is not convicted of a criminal offense and the Order's investigation does not substantiate the allegation, then the Board of Inquiry, at its discretion, may lift the suspension restoring the professed Companion, novice, postulant, Associate to active status.