Amanda Skofstad | March 23, 2020
Kathleen McChesney, former FBI executive assistant director and a leading expert in addressing the Catholic Church’s sexual abuse and coverup crisis, will receive the University of Notre Dame’s 2020 Laetare Medal, the oldest and most prestigious honor given to American Catholics, at Notre Dame’s 175th University Commencement Ceremony.
“It is often the Church’s darkest moments that call forth great faith and courage,” said Notre Dame President Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C. “In awarding Dr. McChesney the Laetare Medal, we recognize her courage, tenacity and love for the Church in a tireless pursuit of justice for victims, accountability for abusers and measures that prevent this crisis from continuing. Her example reminds us of Jesus’ words, ‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justice.’”
McChesney’s myriad law enforcement achievements began in the 1970s as a police officer in King County, Washington. As a detective, she investigated sex crimes and homicides, including the case involving the notorious serial killer Ted Bundy. McChesney joined the FBI in 1978 as a special agent, eventually reaching the third-highest position within the bureau as executive assistant director for law enforcement services.
In 2002, McChesney was recruited by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to establish and lead its Office of Child Protection, where she helped the nation’s 195 dioceses and eparchies implement the “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.” She established protocols for responses to allegations of abuse, prevention of abuse, transparency and accountability. Over the course of three years, McChesney also worked with the John Jay College of Criminal Justice to develop an unprecedented study of sexual abuse of children in the Catholic Church, which was released in 2004. She is the founder of Kinsale Management Consulting, through which she continues to serve dioceses, religious organizations, and others around the world in the protection of children and vulnerable adults and in preventing ministerial misconduct and abuse.
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