PORTLAND (AP) – A group that was formed to address sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church has released a report offering ways for institutions to respond to allegations of sexual abuse.

The model, which was released Monday by a group calling itself the Best Practice Team, calls for institutions to be more open and says victims and their families should be quickly referred to someone outside the institution for help.

“Some of the institutional responses that have been out there have been very harmful, very hurtful to the family,” said Courtney Oland, one of 10 in the group. Her brother was sexually abused by a priest, and she said her family could have used such a model.

The report suggests that institutions make use of 10 sexual assault response centers in Maine.

Those centers already can connect sexual abuse victims with counselors, self-help groups, and other service providers.

During its research, the Best Practice Team found that sexual abuse was more widespread than initially believed. The report mentions the sexual abuse at the state-run Baxter School for the Deaf, in the Boy Scouts of America, in other churches and in public and private schools.

Cyndi Amato, executive director of Sexual Assault Response Services of Southern Maine, and Oland presented the report to Bishop Richard Malone of the Diocese of Portland earlier this month.

Sue Bernard, a diocese spokeswoman, said Malone did not commission the study, but had agreed to meet with the two regarding the report. “The bishop was pleased to talk to them and felt that this was an excellent piece of work,” she said.

But Michael Sweatt, spokesman for the Maine chapter of the Catholic reform group Voice of the Faithful, said the bishop should implement the model.

“He has an opportunity to set the tone, to set the pace, to set the example for all institutions, and what better institution to set the tone than the church,” Sweatt said.

The report includes guidelines for institutions, abuse victims and their families.

It also contains a section on reporting sexual abuse, along with information regarding the treatment of child sexual abusers who have molested children in an institutional setting.


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