Statement Regarding the Removal from Ministry of Deacon Rick Caldwell
On June 24, 2018, the Diocese of Jackson became aware of a report of inappropriate sexual contact by Deacon Rick Caldwell with a minor female occurring in the early 1980s. The alleged conduct occurred many years before Caldwell joined the Church and became a deacon. After an investigation into the allegations, the Diocese has concluded that the claims are credible.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Charter for Protection of Children and Young People has a zero tolerance policy and requires the removal from ministry of any priest, deacon or other religious upon determination of a credible claim of sexual misconduct with a minor. Accordingly, Deacon Caldwell’s faculties have been suspended as of July 24, 2018, and he has been removed from ministry. He is no longer free to function as a Deacon. The allegation of abuse has been reported to civil authorities by the Diocese.
The Diocese of Jackson is committed to protecting children. Sexual misconduct by church personnel violates human dignity and the mission of the Church. The Diocese is committed to ensuring that children being served by the Church are not at risk of sexual abuse by Church personnel. The spiritual well-being of all victims, their families, and others in the community is of particular concern to the church.
Over the past thirty years, the Diocese of Jackson has developed and implemented a safe environment program. The Diocese has publicized standards of conduct for its priests and deacons as well as diocesan employees, volunteers, and any other church personnel in positions of trust who have regular contact with children and young people. Beginning in 1986, the Diocese implemented a written policy and procedure regarding reporting and handling of sexual misconduct claims. The policy was updated in 1994 with the addition of a Diocesan Fitness Review Board and again in 2002 so that it would reflect the mandates of the Bishops’ Charter.
Anyone who has been a victim of abuse or exploitation by clergy, religious or lay church personnel and has not yet reported it is encouraged to do so. The Diocese of Jackson places no deadline or time limits on reporting. The Victim Assistance Coordinator, Valerie McClellan and Vicar General, Fr. Kevin Slattery are available to assist in making a report. The contact number for the Victim Assistance Coordinator is 601/326-3728. The contact number for the Vicar General is 601/969-2290.
For more information about the Diocesan policies and procedures, you can visit the diocesan website at www.jacksondiocese.org.