Sex Offender Policy

 ADOPTED BY THE MISSION COUNCIL SEPTEMBER 10, 2016

 This policy consists of three components that are intended to be read and used together:

 A. Statement of Purpose

 B. Protocols

 C. Behavioral Covenant Template

 This policy applies to all parishes and worshipping communities in ECCT.

A. Statement of Purpose 

The Episcopal Church in Connecticut (ECCT) seeks to create a welcoming and safe environment for all of God’s people, including those who have committed criminal acts. God makes no distinction between sins or sinners. As we seek to follow The Great Commandment, we welcome all sinners into ECCT who sincerely seek worship, discipleship, ministry and an opportunity to experience the love of Christ through this church. 

We also recognize our responsibility to create and maintain a safe church environment for all. This means we must accept our responsibility to bring people together who have conflicting and diverse life experiences. We aspire to be a place where conversations about accountability, amendment of life, restorative justice, wholeness and healing are engaged, as we deepen our lives of faith.

Both the members of a parish and an offender have responsibilities in this process. It is the responsibility of the leaders and members of the parish to set heathy behavioral boundaries for the offender and to work to support the terms of the Behavioral Covenant (Covenant), thereby reasonably promoting the safety of all persons in a parish including the offender. It is the responsibility of an offender to disclose to parish/worshiping community leaders their inclusion on a sex offender registry and comply with all terms set out in the Covenant. (See below for the Behavioral Covenant Template.)

With that in mind, these protocols are to be followed by all parishes and worshipping communities in ECCT whenever anyone on any sex offender registry seeks to engage, to any degree, in the life of a parish. Parish leaders may also apply these protocols to those among us who have a criminal conviction history of victimizing others and are not on a sex offender registry.

While it is desired and expected that all registered offenders will self-disclose their status to the clergy or lay leadership, it is acknowledged that some registered sex offenders may attend our churches without our knowledge of their status. Should any of those persons seek to participate in ministries or certain leadership capacities covered by ECCT policies regarding the Protection of Vulnerable Adults or the Protection of Children and Youth, the requisite public record background checks should reveal their status on the registry and any other criminal convictions.

B. Protocols

The following protocols apply whenever parish clergy, staff or lay leaders learn of a registered sex offender seeking to worship or otherwise participate in the life of the parish.

1. Interview the offender. The interview is conducted by an ordained leader of the parish who may invite a warden to be present during the interview. In the absence of an ordained leader, the wardens are to conduct the interview. During the interview: 

a. Ask about the offender’s desires regarding participation in the parish. 

b. Review the behavioral boundaries and seek their cooperation as a means of making worship services available to them while maintaining a safe church environment. If an offender does not agree to cooperate with the terms of the Covenant as set out below, preclude that person from attending any parish functions and immediately notify the Canon for Mission Integrity and Training.

c. Explain how information concerning their status will be shared with people in the parish (as set out in #6 below). Do not promise confidentiality; inclusion on a sex offender registry is public information. 

d. Obtain the offender’s residence address and telephone contact information, name and contact information for their parole or probation officer to verify terms and conditions or parole/probation and the offender’s criminal record, name and contact information for their therapist, if any. Seek permission to speak with both the parole/probation officer and therapist.

2. Call the parole/probation officer to verify the terms of parole/probation and criminal history. Explore whether attending worship services or participating in any parish activities, with or without a monitor/chaperone, would violate the terms of parole/probation. 

3. Identify appropriate monitors/chaperones and provide them with explicit training and instructions. This includes having the offender in line of sight at all times, deflecting contact with children and watching for any social invitation by unsuspecting parishioners. Friends and family members of the offender are not eligible to serve as monitors/chaperones with the exception of those who are vetted and approved to serve in this capacity by a probation officer. The probation officer’s written verification of such approval must be attached to the Covenant. All monitors/chaperones should sign and receive a copy of the Covenant. 

4. Consider talking to the offender’s therapist to explore if there are certain behavioral tools the therapist might want the monitors/chaperones or others to know about that would protect the offender from becoming vulnerable. 

5. Create a Covenant with the offender using the template provided. The Covenant affirms the mutual desire to make it possible for the offender to attend worship services or other events within these protocols. Any violations of the Covenant will be grounds to deny the offender further access to the parish or its activities. The Covenant should be reviewed periodically (at least every six months).

6. Inform parish clergy, staff, wardens, vestry and ministry leaders (ECW, DRE, etc.) of the content of the Covenant. In small parishes it might be preferable to inform all members of the worshipping community. The information disclosed should focus on the content of the Covenant, not the facts of the underlying conviction or identity of victim(s).

7. Provide copies of the Covenant to the offender, wardens, clergy and all those who have consented to serve as monitors/chaperones. 

8. Identify a means by which this information will be preserved and shared with all new clergy, staff and lay leaders as changes in personnel occur. 

C. Behavioral Covenant Template - Click Here for Template