NEW HAVEN, Conn., Dec. 14, 2010 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Knights of Columbus vigorously denies allegations made in a pair of lawsuits filed by a Florida trial lawyer in federal court today.
"Although we have not yet been served with the lawsuits, we have obtained and reviewed copies of the complaints, and we emphatically deny the allegations that have been made," spokesman Patrick Korten said.
"The allegations date back to the 1970s and 1980s and involve a former member of the Knights of Columbus in Brownsville, Texas named Julian Rivera," Korten continued. "We first became aware of allegations of sexual abuse against him only one year ago, in December 2009. We acted immediately, removing him from any responsibility involving youth programs, and referring the case to Brownsville law enforcement authorities."
Rivera terminated his membership in the Knights of Columbus in January 2010.
In 2003, the Knights of Columbus formalized its policies involving youth activities in its "Youth Protection Program," which describes in considerable detail the organization's policies designed to protect children from any form of abuse. It admonishes Knights to act "not only in the most honorable and respectful manner toward children," but to be "alert at all times to any type of inappropriate activity that may be directed at a child by others." Knights, it says, must "avoid even the appearance of any impropriety." A complete PDF version of the document may be found at http://www.kofc.org/en/resources/service/youth/youthprotection.pdf
In addition, every Knight who agrees to serve as a youth leader must undergo a background check every three years.
"The safety and well-being of the youngsters involved in our Columbian Squires program and all other youth activities of the Knights of Columbus are among our highest priorities, and are at the heart of our approach to helping young Catholics become faithful and responsible citizens and future leaders of the church," Korten concluded.
As of last June 30, there were 27,983 Columbian Squires in 1,483 Squires Circles. The order also sponsors a number of other youth activities, including its annual free throw competition and Soccer Challenge programs as well as local council-sponsored activities.
SOURCE Knights of Columbus