Independent Diocesan Review Board Provides Outside Perspective

An independent panel of experts known as the Diocesan Review Board assists the Bishop in discharging his responsibilities involving the sexual abuse of minors by clerics. It was formed in 2003.

Dr. Eugene Decker is a charter member of the board and has served as board chair for the past several years.

Decker is medical director of the Family Practice Residency Program at St. Luke’s-Warren Hospital, Phillipsburg, New Jersey and medical director of the DeSales Physician Assistant Program at DeSales University, Center Valley. He has served as a consultant with both the Warren County, New Jersey and Northampton County prosecutor’s offices.

“I’m a family doctor with expertise in examining children who have been sexually abused,” said Decker

Decker has coached track at Notre Dame High School, Easton for 14 years and CYO (Catholic Youth Organization) track at St. Jane for 24 years. He is Diocesan CYO coordinator for cross country.

 “I’m extremely proud to be part of the Diocese and the board,” said Decker.

Other members are Monsignor Albert Byrne, pastor of St. John the Baptist Church in Whitehall; Gwen Millets; Christopher Moughan; and Richard Podguski

Gwen Millets has been a caseworker with Lehigh County Children and Youth Services for 16 years. She conducts investigations relating to child abuse, which includes interviewing children and alleged perpetrators. She earned a master of social work degree from Widener University.

Christopher Moughan has been a federal probation office for 25 years. He is currently the Senior U.S. Probation Officer for the federal district court based in Allentown. His duties include supervision and investigation of federal offenders, including sex offenders. He oversees the location monitoring program in the Allentown office.

Richard Podguski has been the Director of the Bureau of Offender Reentry of the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole for the last 11 years. He has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice/law enforcement administration from DeSales University, Center Valley and a master’s degree in public administration from Kutztown University.

Decker said board members over the years have been physicians, worked in social service, psychology or in some way worked with people in medical services or the prison system.

“I’m very proud of the people I’ve served with and the present members,” he said.

“Bishop Schlert actively participates in every meeting to get the recommendation of the board members.”

Decker emphasized that when the board reviews a case, the accuser and the accused are anonymous. “That’s the correct way to do it.”

The board now meets quarterly to review the code of conduct to see if something needs to be revised, the code applying to lay employees of the Diocese as well as priests. “The code has been revised multiple times,” he said.

Monsignor David James, Diocesan Vicar General said, “Our Diocesan Review Board is a valuable asset in the Diocese’s efforts to protect children and young people. I know that Bishop Schlert and his predecessors have relied greatly on the real-world expertise of the men and women of the Review Board who are advising the Bishops on these important matters.”