An international organization which speaks on the behalf of those abused by members of the clergy, has given thumbs down to a decision by a Diocesan Review Board to refer an alleged sexual misconduct matter involving a local priest to Rome for a decision.
Executive director of the US-based Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP), David Clohessy, told Dominica News Online that his organization has little faith in the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, the office of the Catholic Church that will make a decision on the matter.
“This is precisely the church body that has, for decades, kept silent about thousands of clergy sex abuse from across the globe,” he said.
Msgr. Reginald La Fleur was sent on administrative leave earlier this year by Bishop of the Diocese of Roseau Gabriel Malzaire, after a woman, who called herself Jane Doe, accused him of sexually abusing her, 19 years ago, when she was a teenager.
The review board has been looking into the matter but came to a conclusion that it was beyond its competence, according to the bishop.
It was therefore agreed that it should be referred to the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, which investigates alleged crime committed by a cleric against a person under the age of eighteen.
Clohessy said the best approach in cases like this is to make a complaint to the civil authorities and not the church hierarchy.
He was supported by Judy Jones, SNAP’s Midwest Associate Director.
“This is why we urge others who may have knowledge or may have been harmed by Msgr. Reginald La Fleur to please speak up and report it to law enforcement, not the church officials. They are not the proper officials to be investigating child sex crimes,” she told Dominica News Online.
She described Jane Doe as a ‘very brave woman’ who should be commended “for her courage and for her determination to help protect children today.”
“She feels very much alone in a country who will not accept that Msgr. Reginald La Fleur could do such a horrible thing to a child,” Jones said.
Msgr. William Jno Lewis has been appointed to act as parish priest at the St. Patrick Church in Grand Bay, where Msgr. La Fleur was doing his ministry, until the matter is brought to a closure.