Protecting Children

A time for truth, a path to healing

Our Church today is suffering, having been wounded not from outside, but from within. There are reliable reports of ministers violating their vows, betraying their vocations, and victimizing others. There are plausible charges that some in authority have ignored crimes, abetted deceptions, and failed in their duty to protect the most vulnerable.

Our hearts cry out for truth and for justice. Jesus said, “If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” We can pray that this season of suffering will become a time of truth and of clarity, so that new light will break into our darkness, and we can find a path toward healing for all members of the Body of Christ.

How to report abuse

If anyone has reason to believe or suspect there is or has been abuse involving clergy, employees, volunteers, or children attending Catholic schools, parish religious education programs, or other church-related events, those suspicions or allegations are to be reported first to civil authorities. Subsequently, they should be reported to the Archdiocesan Victim Assistance Coordinator, unless the report involves the Archbishop himself.


The Catholic Bishop Abuse Reporting Service has been established and was activated in March 2020 to receive reports of sexual abuse and related misconduct by bishops, and to relay those reports to proper Church authorities for investigation. Where a report includes a crime, such as the sexual abuse of a minor, it will also be reported to civil authorities. Otherwise, reports will be kept confidential. Reporting may be made at ReportBishopAbuse.org or 800-276-1562.

Sexual abuse by a priest, deacon or a staff member or volunteer of the Church should be reported to the Archdiocesan Victim Assistance Coordinator, Rocio Rodriguez. 

Rocio Rodriguez, LMFT, Victim Assistance Coordinator
Phone: 415-614-5506
rodriguezr@sfarch.org

Every allegation will be treated seriously and immediate steps taken to protect the alleged victim(s). These actions will be taken discreetly so as to protect the confidentiality and the rights of both the victim and the alleged abuser.

State law requires people in certain positions to make such reports. These people are referred to as “Mandatory Reporters”. All other adults, called “Ethical Reporters” should also report suspected abuse.

Investigation following the report should be left to duly appointed professionals.

Instructions for Reporting

Cases of alleged abuse in which the abuser and the victim are of the same household are to be reported to Child Protective Services (CPS), while cases in which the alleged victim and the accused do not share a household should be reported to law enforcement authorities (sheriff’s department or local police).

What happens when someone reports an allegation of abuse to the Archdiocese?

Step 1

The Victim Assistance Coordinator will ask if this has been reported to Child Protective Services or the Police Department. If not, the Victim Assistance Coordinator will inform the person that the policy of the Archdiocese is to report the matter to the proper civil authorities. If the victim is a current minor the report is made to Child Protective Services if the abuser and victim are living in the same household. If the alleged minor victim and the accused do not share a household the report is made to the Sheriff’s Department or Police Department. If the victim is no longer a minor the report is made to the local District Attorney’s office (see above).

Step 2

The preliminary facts gathered by the Victim Assistance Coordinator will be referred to a qualified investigator (i.e. retired policeman/woman) who prepares a detailed report for consideration by the Archdiocesan Independent Review Board (IRB). When the preliminary investigation (e.g. the initial information gathered by the Victim Assistance Coordinator and /or the supplemental information obtained by the investigator) so indicates, the alleged perpetrator shall be relieved of active employment/ministry (placed on administrative leave) pending the conclusion of the investigation. The IRB then makes its recommendation to the Archbishop as to whether there is sufficient evidence to sustain that the sexual abuse of a minor has occurred.

Step 3

The Archbishop and/or the Victim Assistance Coordinator will share the finding of the Independent Review Board and the Archbishop’s determination concerning the investigation with the alleged victim and perpetrator. In the event there is a determination that abuse occurred and the alleged perpetrator is a clergyman, he will be informed of his canonical right to request a canonical trial. If a clergyman admits that the abuse occurred, or chooses not to contest the matter, or the finding is sustained at trial then, pursuant to the USCCB document, Promise to Protect, Pledge to Heal – USCCB (revised 2018), the individual will be permanently removed from ministry.

Office of Child and Youth Protection

Contact us

The Victim Assistance Coordinator (VAC) is a licensed therapist and can be reached directly at (415) 614-5506, a secure line. The VAC is available to help victim/survivors make a formal complaint to the Archdiocese and offers assistance with psychotherapy, spiritual direction, and referrals to other supportive services. The Archdiocese maintains a Survivor Help Line at (415) 614-5503, a secure line answered by survivors.

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Independent Review Board

Archbishop Cordileone has identified a group of well-educated and highly skilled professionals to advise the Archdiocese on matters relating to abuse by clergy.

This group includes a psychologist (Dr. Renee Duffey), two physicians (Dr. Laura Rubinos and Dr. Kesook Lee), a retired police officer (Mr. Al Trigueiro), and a survivor (Mr. John McCord). There is a balance of men and women, and several members are also parents.

This Independent Review Board (IRB) oversees the “Safe Environment” program of the Archdiocese and has acted as a consultant to religious orders of priests. The Vicar for Clergy and the Archbishop meet regularly with this Board. The Victim Assistance Coordinator and the Diocesan Attorney serve as support staff, but are not members. They, along with the Archbishop and the Vicar for Clergy, excuse themselves during IRB deliberations on particular cases. The Chancellor (Msgr. Michael Padazinski) is a member and takes part in deliberations, but has no vote.

The Archdiocese’s Victim Assistance Coordinator, Rocio Rodriguez, can be reached at 415-614-5506 or rodriguezr@sfarch.org, and works with the Archbishop, the Independent Review Board and the Vicar for Clergy to coordinate support for victims and their families.

Independent Review Boards are addresed in the USCCB document, Promise to Protect; Pledge to Heal – USCCB (updated 2018), Article 2: “Dioceses/eparchies are also to have a review board that functions as a confidential consultative body to the bishop/eparch. The majority of its members are to be lay persons not in the employ of the diocese/eparchy.”