Diocese Right To Act Swiftly
Ronald S. Burkhead, of Rayland, was arrested last week and charged with various offenses involving alleged sexual misconduct with a minor. Burkhead, 41, had been employed by the Buckeye Local school system as a traveling teacher who worked at various schools.
After the arrest, Jefferson County Sheriff Fred Abdalla said another minor with whom Burkhead allegedly had a relationship had been identified. The sheriff speculated there may have been other victims, and he encouraged parents whose children may have come in contact with Burkhead to discuss the matter with them.
Then it was revealed — by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Steubenville — that Burkhead had taught for a time at diocesan schools. They were St. Francis Central in Toronto from 2000-01 and Holy Rosary Central in Steubenville from 2004-05, diocesan Permanent Deacon Paul D. Ward said.
Ward added that anyone who has been harmed by anyone serving on behalf of the church should contact the diocese and law enforcement authorities.
Good for the diocese, from Bishop Jeffrey M. Monforton on down.
Many in the Catholic Church have been accused of condoning or at least covering up for predator priests and others within the church. There is ample evidence that some church officials indeed failed to do enough to bring predators to justice and protect the public from them.
Diocese of Steubenville officials did the right thing in regard to Burkhead — and, importantly, appear to have done it swiftly and without being prodded to make their announcement. Their reaction to news about Burkhead should serve as a model for others, and not just within the Catholic Church. As we are coming to learn, other trusted institutions have fallen short, too.
Diocesan officials are right: No one, whether a juvenile or an adult, victimized by someone in power should hesitate to alert law enforcement.