Highest-Ranking Woman at FBI to Head Bishops' Child Protection Office. (Nation)

National Catholic Reporter, November 22, 2002 | Go to article overview

Highest-Ranking Woman at FBI to Head Bishops' Child Protection Office. (Nation)


The highest-ranking woman at the FBI characterized her move to head the U.S. bishops' new Office for Child and Youth Protection as one where she will deal with the similar experience of working in an institution where the misdeeds of a few people cast a shadow on the good done by the rest of its representatives.

"I believe the Catholic church has suffered because of the acts of a few," said Kathleen L. McChesney, 51, the FBI's executive assistant director for law enforcement services. "I come from an institution where we suffered because of the acts of a few and I know how important it is to have the faith of your ... constituents." McChesney confirmed for reporters that she was referring to the damage caused to the FBI by spies.

McChesney was introduced Nov. 7 at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops as the new executive director of the office being formed as part of the bishops' efforts to address the problem of sexual abuse of children and youths by church personnel.

The appointment, announced by Msgr. William P. Fay, general secretary of the conference, becomes effective Dec. 1.

He said McChesney was unanimously recommended by the search committee.

"The very first thing I have to do is listen," McChesney said in an interview following her appointment.

Describing herself as goal-oriented, she said, "We have very specific goals: to get safe environment programs [for children and youths] created throughout the dioceses, to get the auditing [of diocesan sexual abuse policies and practices[ in place, to get the first annual [diocesan policy and practice] report done and to set up a continued reporting mechanism."

McChesney said in the beginning her job will be "a learning process, because I have not been working with the church for the past 30 years."

McChesney has been with the FBI since 1978, holding positions including special agent in charge of the Chicago and Portland, Ore., field offices. She became assistant director of the bureau's training division at Quantico, Va., in June 2001 and was promoted to her current position last December. The post makes her the No. 3 official at the bureau.

Prior to joining the FBI, she was a detective with the King County, Wash., police department, where she investigated sex crimes, robberies, assaults and homicides.

Robert S. Bennett, a Washington attorney and the member of the National Review Board who headed the search for the post, said search committee members were impressed with McChesney's experience in a large organization where part of her responsibility was ensuring compliance with its rules and regulations. He said they also were impressed with how she worked with people who were her superiors at the FBI, with those who were her equals and those who worked under her.

"She was the best of the best," he said.

In a statement released by the bishops' conference, Bennett said McChesney created the FBI's Office of Law Enforcement Coordination to improve the relationship between the FBI and the nation's 18,000 police agencies. She also established the National Intel Share project to promote information sharing among law enforcement officers, he said.

Bennett said McChesney managed the FBI's international operations in 44 countries and led efforts to open 11 additional offices. …

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