Parental contract absolving church's liability pulled
CENTERVILLE, Mass. (WHDH) -- Our Lady of Victory in Centerville is at the center of a controversial parent contract that the parish pulled Tuesday.
The contract had parents agree that when another adult supervises their child the "...ultimate supervision and safety of that child is still our responsibility and ours alone."
Parents also had to agree not to hold the "...Diocese or any of its employees or contractors liable for any accidents, illness or harm..."
“That's extremely troublesome. I wouldn’t sign this or send my kids,” said Chris Picariello.
“It’s the responsibility of the parent to investigate and check out who they’re sending their child to be in the care of, so I would sign it,” said Bonnie Scott.
“What they’re saying here is, ‘We’re not responsible legally at all,’ said Mitchell Garabedian, attorney.
Attorney Mitchell Garabedian who has represented childhood victims of priest sex abuse says the contract puts the church's protection above children.
“You have an entity here that is supposed to be saying, ‘We’ll take care of your children, you can trust us with your children. These are the screening processes we’ve gone through now. We’ve learned from the past, we’ve learned for pedophilia and the pedophile crisis,’ but it’s none of that,” said Garabedian.
But the priest who says he drafted the contract with help from a Fall River Diocese office says his intent was to keep kids safe during heavily attended religious education meetings.
In a statement, the diocese said the parish was told to pull the contract until it’s reviewed by attorneys.
It’s a contract some see as a sign of the times.
“In this day and age, with legal responsibilities and concerns, they’re just taking care of themselves,” said Kristin Peterson. “I’m a parent, and my child is my responsibility.”
The parish priest says he has used a similar contract for the past four years without any trouble. He also says many families signed the contract this year as well.