How to Make a Complaint
Anyone with information about a possible Offense by an accountable person can make a complaint. Accountable persons are the clergy, i.e., deacons, priests, and bishops.
The Complainant does not have to be a person who feels he or she has been the victim of an offense. Under Title IV any person can proceed with a complaint based on possessing knowledge of a potential offense committed by a member of the clergy.
The complaint can be delivered in writing, by phone, via email, or in person to any deacon, priest, bishop, or Intake Officer. Any of those people are canonically required to take action upon receipt of the complaint. Deacons, priests, and bishops are required to convey the complaint to the Intake Officer. The process is defined in the Canons of Title IV and step-by-step in the Structure and Procedures section of this website. The Rev. Canon Frank Logue of the Diocese of Georgia has years of experience as an Intake Officer and says there is no formal process or form to fill out when it comes to making a complaint. The complaint process is designed to be accessible for the Complainant.
The provisions of Title IV define the Complainant’s role in the process and the care and assistance that the Complainant will receive. Elected and appointed disciplinary officials are canonically mandated to provide assistance to the Complainant in a timely manner and often to others affected by an incident or behavioral issue. This assistance includes pastoral care (the Pastoral Response required by Title I Canon 8) and often an Advisor. After the complaint has been delivered to the Intake Officer, he or she proceeds to gather the information concerning the complaint.
The Rev. Canon Logue says the Complainant does not have to be concerned about deciding if an issue is a Title IV Offense or not. That is a determination to be made by the Intake Officer, members of the Disciplinary Board and the bishop. He says simply alerting the church to a disciplinary issue with a cleric will often lift the emotional burden the Complainant bears.
Title IV also mandates that clerics must report to the Intake Officer any information they may have concerning a possible Offense committed by another cleric. The Operations Director of the Diocese of Northern Michigan, who also serves as the Intake Officer, says the reporting of possible Offenses is an important and necessary function of ministry. She also says that those who work with a cleric are sometimes the first to suspect there is a disciplinary issue.