The OCA’s Synod of Bishops issued a revised Policy, Standards, and Procedures on Sexual Misconduct at their Fall 2013 Holy Synod meeting. They have been engaged in a long and taxing process to improve policies, the culture and the institution. The bishops have come to understand the importance for the entire Church to provide a safe and healthy environment for all of the faithful. The Church laments the sin of sexual misconduct, and will not tolerate sexual misconduct by its clergy or any layperson. The more rigorous and proactive stance regarding sexual misconduct better meet the societal and legal expectations for an organization in the modern world. Taking all allegations seriously means taking a closer look at the policies, standards and procedures of the organizations, as well as taking the time to investigate complaints brought to the attention of the church’s leaders.
One example of a more proactive approach to dealing with the social and human problem of sexual abuse is that the OCA now provides a way for people to confidentially report a case of misconduct by calling the toll-free number 855-398-2600.
When the Church investigates allegations of sexual misconduct, it is not attempting to replace or even duplicate investigations which might also be done by civil authorities. The Church has its own standards for dealing with sexual misconduct by its clergy or membership. Even the mere appearance of inappropriate sexual behavior especially by clergy is considered a moral issue within the Orthodox Community. Our bishops have to maintain a high level of moral standards and discipline on these issues, regardless of whether civil authorities would involve themselves in the cases brought to the attention of church authorities.