In accordance with the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, the diocese has an established Review Board, a confidential, consultative body whose primary purpose is to assist the Diocesan Bishop in making a determination of a cleric’s suitability for ministry upon receipt of an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor, young person, or vulnerable adult. The Board does not investigate the credibility of an allegation if the accused priest or religious is deceased as there is no action that can be taken in terms of that cleric’s suitability for continued ministry. The Review Board is convened following notification to the appropriate civil authority and after the diocese is advised that no further action will be taken by civil authorities.
The membership of the Diocesan Review Board includes:
- At least five persons of outstanding integrity and good judgment in full communion with the Church.
- A majority of laypersons who are not in the employ of the Diocese.
- At least one member who is an experienced and respected pastor of the Diocese.
- At least one member with particular expertise in the treatment of the sexual abuse of minors.
- Members shall serve upon written appointment by the Diocesan Bishop for a period of five years, renewable for additional five year terms. The Board shall meet at least annually and otherwise as needed.
All matters discussed by and all information presented to the Board shall be maintained in a confidential manner.
The functions of the Diocesan Review Board include:
- Assessing allegations of sexual abuse by minors, young people, and vulnerable adults by priests and deacons under the auspices of the diocese in order to advise the Diocesan Bishop on credibility of the allegations and whether the allegations fall within the definition of sexual abuse, as defined in the Child and Youth Protection Policy.
- Advising the Diocesan Bishop in his determination of suitability for ministry on a case-specific basis.
In each and every instance of an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor by a priest or deacon in ministry, the Diocesan Review Board will either:
- Make a determination that the allegation is credible and falls within the definition of sexual abuse as defined in the Child and Youth Protection Policy. The Review Board will, in that event, make a recommendation to the Bishop as to whether the person suspected of abuse will be relieved of or continued on leave from any ecclesiastical ministry or function; or
- Determine that the allegations either are not credible or do not meet the definition of sexual abuse as defined in the Child and Youth Protection Policy. In addition, if the Diocesan Review Board nonetheless concludes that there remains reason(s) for concern, the Diocesan Bishop will determine the most appropriate course of action and the disposition of the accused.
The deliberations of the Diocesan Review Board will be strictly confidential and no detailed minutes will be taken or maintained.
The Diocesan Bishop will forward all credible allegations to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which will in turn refer cases to a church tribunal or retain the case and determine the future of the accused.
Diocesan Review Board Members
The Diocesan Review Board assists the bishop in promptly responding to any allegation of sexual misconduct by members of the diocesan clergy. Members are:
Christine Larkin, Chairperson
Christine Larkin began working for Onondaga County Child Protective Services in 1979 specializing in the field of child sexual abuse, being on the one of the original members of the sexual abuse unit in 1983. In the early 1980’s she helped create and participated in the film used throughout New York to train CPS caseworkers and law enforcement personnel to interview families involved with sexual abuse. In 1989 Ms. Larkin participated in a focus group making recommendations to the Governor’s Task Force on Rape and Sexual Assault. She supervised the Sexual Abuse Investigations Unit from 1990 to 2004 until her appointment as Assistant Director in Children’s Division. As Assistant Director, Ms. Larkin was responsible for the Sex Abuse/Child Fatality Investigations Unit, the Sex Abuse Services Unit and the Child Abuse Hotline until her retirement in June 2010.
In July 2010, Ms. Larkin became the Coordinator for the Onondaga County Child Fatality Review Team where she coordinates a multidisciplinary team of approximately 20-25 professionals who review the unexpected deaths of children up to the age of 18 years.
In addition, Ms. Larkin is a trainer for the NYS Forensic Interviewing Best Practices training for those who work in the field of child sexual abuse. In 2013, she participated in the curriculum development of the Advanced Forensic Interviewing Best Practices training and is currently one the trainers.
In 2015, Ms. Larkin became the project facilitator for the Safe Harbor for Children Project; her role was to implement the program in Onondaga County. The Safe Harbor law was enacted to identify, protect and to provide service to minors who have been commercially sexually exploited (trafficked).
Over her career, Ms. Larkin has participated in many professional organizations that specialize in education around sex abuse issues, including the Sexual Abuse Study and Treatment Team (SAST); the NY Chapter of the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children (NYAPSAC) and the Onondaga County Child Abuse Citizens Advisory Council. Currently, she is a member of the Children’s Justice Task Force; Mother’s and Children in Crisis (Board Vice President since 2012); the Regional Anti-Trafficking Task Force; and the advisory board for Hope Connections.
Ms. Larkin is a 1978 graduate from SUNY Oswego with a bachelor’s degree in Public Justice.She is also the recipient of four awards for her work with children and families.
Valerie A. Brogan
Valerie Brogan began working in the law enforcement profession in 1988. She retired from the Onondaga County Sheriff’s Department (Police Division) in 2012 and is currently the Assistant Director at Colgate University Campus Safety Department.
Ms. Brogan was a detective in the Criminal Investigation Division of the Sheriff’s Department for sixteen years. She was assigned to the Abused Persons Unit, where she was responsible for investigating sexually based offenses against children and adults; child homicides; child abuse; and cases of domestic violence. Ms. Brogan was the first detective to be assigned to the Onondaga County Child Advocacy Center until her retirement in 2012.
In Ms. Brogan’s current assignment, she is responsible for conducting investigations of sexual assaults, stalking and dating violence cases reported to have occurred on the Colgate University campus. She is also the liaison with local law enforcement on those cases where prosecution is desired.
Catherine Diana, LCSW
Catherine Diana, LCSW, has over 25 years of clinical experience in the field of sexual abuse and maintains a private practice working with adult men and women sex offenders. Ms. Diana has also been a part-time trainer on sexual abuse at Fordham University for the past 14 years. In 1993, Ms. Diana developed an on-campus residential program at LaSalle School in Albany for adolescents, and she was the Director of the Huntington Adolescent Safe Options Treatment Program in Syracuse. She helped Elmcrest Children’s Center develop specialized treatment programs for adolescents who has sexual offending behaviors. Ms. Diana has presented over two hundred workshops and training seminars on many different topics surrounding sex offenses and has been a consultant both nationally and internationally on issues related to adolescent sex offending behaviors and programming. Ms. Diana has offered her time and expertise to McMahon/Ryan Child Advocacy Center’s Advisory Board; the Juvenile Sex Offender Treatment Committee; the Sex Abuse Study and Treatment Team (SAST); the Onondaga County Family Court Judges’ Committee; and the Onondaga County District Attorney’s Office Child Abuse Response Team (CART). She has a Master’s Degree in Clinical Social Work from Syracuse University.
Sr. Grace Anne Dillenschneider, OSF
Sister Grace Anne has been the Vicar for Religious for the Diocese of Syracuse since 2010. As a Sister of St. Francis, Sister Grace Anne has been a teacher, principal, Faith Formation teacher, Vice President for Mission in a local hospital, administrator of the care center for the senior sisters and served in leadership of her religious congregation. Sister Grace Anne has also ministered part-time as co-director of Franciscan Collaborative Ministries in Syracuse and assisted with the Cause of Blessed Marianne Cope for sainthood. Sister Grace Anne has a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Medaille College in Buffalo, New York, a Masters in Special Education from Syracuse University and a Masters in Administration from Boston College. She also received an honorary PHD in Humanities from Le Moyne College.
Rev. John J. Kurgan
Rev. John J. Kurgan is the pastor of Our Lady of Sorrows in Vestal and was the parochial vicar for St. Matthew, East Syracuse; the Church of the Nativity at St. Leo, Tully; Church of the Nativity at St. Joseph in Lafayette; Church of the Immaculate Conception, Pompey; and St. Patrick Mission, Otisco.
Father Kurgan is a native son of the Church of the Nativity at St. Joseph in Lafayette and attended the elementary and high school in LaFayette. Father Kurgan has a bachelor’s degree in Sociology from LeMoyne College and attended St. Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore, Maryland.
Robert B. Murrett
Robert B. Murrett is a professor on the faculty of the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University, and serves at the Deputy Director of the Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism (INSCT). He is on the adjunct staff of the RAND Corporation, the Institute for Defense Analyses, and chairs the MITRE Intelligence Advisory Board. Mr. Murrett also serves on the Senior Advisory Group for the Network and Space Systems branch of the Boeing Corporation. He is a member of the Board for the Institute for Veterans and Military Families, and is responsible for a series of ongoing research projects between Syracuse University and the Syracuse Veterans Medical Center.
Previously, Mr. Murrett was a career intelligence officer in the U.S. Navy, serving in assignments throughout the Pacific, Europe, and the Middle East during his thirty-four years of duty, retiring in the grade of Vice Admiral. His duty station included service as Operational Intelligence Officer for the U.S. Pacific Fleet, Assistant Naval Attaché’ at the U.S. Embassy in Oslo, Norway, and Director for Intelligence, U.S. Joint Forces Command. In recent years, he also served as Vice Director for Intelligence, U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Director of Naval Intelligence, and Director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA). Mr. Murrett holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Buffalo, and a master’s degree from the Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University.