FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Aug. 24, 2018
The Diocese of Duluth issued the following statement in light of yesterday’s court ruling involving the Rev. William Graham and a man who has accused him of sexual abuse:
“The diocese was not a party to this lawsuit, which was commenced by Father William Graham against a private citizen. The diocese’s commitment is to the safety of children. In that vein, after a thorough and deliberate process, Father Graham was determined to have been credibly accused of abusing a minor, and accordingly has been removed from ministry. Bishop Sirba stands by that decision, which has been affirmed by the Vatican. The judge in the case ruled that the diocese did not have to provide the documents of its internal investigation to the court. We continue to pray for all involved.”
Background on internal investigation:
After first reporting the accusation against Father Graham to civil authorities, the diocese immediately placed him on administrative leave and then conducted its own internal investigation into the accusation against him. The investigation was conducted by an outside, experienced, independent investigator who reported his findings to the diocese’s Review Board. The Review Board, made up of 10 individuals who are experienced in social work, psychology, education, law, law enforcement, and medicine, reviewed the investigator’s report and supporting detail, met with and questioned extensively the independent investigator, and then made its unanimous recommendation to Bishop Sirba for his consideration. The consensus was that there existed sufficient credible evidence to substantiate the allegation or support the conclusion that the allegation could be substantiated. In accordance with church law, the bishop then contacted the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith at the Vatican and obtained its guidance concerning Father Graham. As a result, Bishop Sirba removed Father Graham from public ministry. This removal remains in effect.
The Diocese of Duluth is committed to offering assistance to anyone who has been a victim of sexual misconduct on the part of clergy and strongly encourages anyone who has been a victim of sexual abuse to report such abuse to the civil authorities and to the Diocese of Duluth.
RESPONSE TO ANDERSON’S ACCUSATIONS
At Mr. Davis’ request, Bishop Sirba testified under oath 18 month ago on the issue of any employment contract with Father Graham. Contrary to Mr. Anderson’s office’s assertion, Bishop Sirba did not refuse to testify at trial. Rather, the attorney for Mr. Davis demanded the Bishop appear at trial on unreasonably short notice, which did not allow adequate time for Bishop Sirba to adjust his schedule. The Court agreed and excused Bishop from having to appear at trial.
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