FBI Alumnus to Lead Diocesan Review

By Joe Feuerherd
National Catholic Reporter [Washington]
May 30, 2003

The Gavin Group, headed by former FBI assistant director William A. Gavin, will lead the review of diocesan compliance with the U.S. bishops' child protection policies, according to the head of the bishops' Office of Child and Youth Protection.

The firm will audit each of the nation's 195 dioceses and report to the National Review Board overseeing implementation of the June 2002-approved "Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People," said Kathleen McChesney, director of the bishops' Office of Child and Youth Protection.

The firm includes "experienced and mature individuals" who have extensive "investigative and auditing experience," said McChesney. Gavin, for example, previously headed the FBI's inspections division, which reviewed FBI offices in the United States and abroad for compliance with bureau procedures, said McChesney. He also was former head of the FBI's New York office. The firm's principals include James Quigley, formerly managing partner of Ernst & Young, one of the world's leading accounting firms.

David Clohessy, national director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, welcomed the selection, but said he was skeptical the firm will get the cooperation it needs to do the job. "Their skills and backgrounds sound impressive, but if history is any guide, bishops and their staffs haven't been very forthcoming," said Clohessy. "I think they have a tough, tough job."

In addition to Gavin, National Review Board chairman Frank Keating served as an FBI agent, and McChesney was No. 3 in the bureau before heading the bishops' child protection office. Should observers read anything into the number of former FBI officials involved in the church's national child protection efforts?

No, said McChesney, there is "not some message" inherent in the number of former law enforcement professionals involved in the effort. While declining to describe the process that resulted in Gavin's selection, McChesney said the experience the firm brings to the task was the criteria used by the review board.

The firm, whose report is expected later this year, is charged with investigating each diocese's compliance with the charter and its accompanying "norms." Under those policies, dioceses are required to:

Have a written policy on the sexual abuse of minors by priests and deacons, as well as by other church personnel;

Designate a "competent person" to coordinate assistance for those who claim to have been abused by priests or deacons.

Create a local "review board" whose job it is to advise the bishop and oversee implementation of anti-abuse steps;

Establish "safe environment" programs for children;

Cooperate with civil authorities in cases of reported abuse;

Perform background checks on employees and volunteers who "have regular contact with minors."

Further, McChesney's office is required to report annually on diocesan progress in meeting the charter's terms. The report is to include the names of dioceses determined not to be in compliance.

Joe Feuerherd is NCR Washington correspondent. His e-mail address is


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.