Even Egan Must Now Have Perv Checkup

By Susan Edelman
New York Post [New York]
March 28, 2003

March 28, 2003 -- The Archdiocese of New York has begun making criminal background checks on all employees who work with children and other vulnerable people - starting with Edward Cardinal Egan, officials said yesterday.

The sweeping new policy will screen current and future employees - from clergy and lay staff to contract workers and volunteers - for any history as a criminal or sex offender.

"We're rolling it out now. We'll be getting it up and running over the next few months," said Archdiocese spokesman Joseph Zwilling.

"We want to assure people that their children will be safe, and we are doing all that we possibly can to make certain of that."

The background checks were prompted by the priest sex-abuse scandal that has rocked the Catholic Church - and will be carried out in dioceses nationwide.

No one will be exempt - from Egan down, Zwilling said.

"He will go through this as well as everyone else," he said.

The policy was outlined in an internal letter sent this week to archdiocese faculty unions, school principals and other managers.

"All clergy, including His Eminence, and all the bishops in the archdiocese, will be screened first," the letter says. They will be followed by all principals and administrators, then teachers, it says.

The policy applies to any employees who work "with or around" children, the "very elderly and physically or mentally infirm," people "less capable of protecting themselves," and those who counsel others.

The background checks - to be conducted by a firm hired by the archdiocese - will include Social Security verification, and searches of a national crime database and the state sex-offender registry.

The new policy has already generated some opposition.

Henry Kielkucki, a spokesman for the Lay Faculty Association, which represents Catholic high-school teachers, said the group has "no problem removing child-abusers from our system."

But he called the policy "too broad."

"What are they going to do to a person who was arrested 30 years ago for marijuana charges, but has been clean since?' " Kielkucki asked. "What would happen if somebody missed two child support payments 15 years ago?"

Zwilling said employees won't necessarily be fired if they have a criminal offense in their past.

"There's no predetermined outcome," he said.


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