Maine Diocese’s Abuse Point Person is Disciplined by State Board for Ethical Violations

On Behalf of | May 10, 2023 | Firm News

Carolyn Bloom, a therapist appointed by Bishop Robert Deeley as a point person to handle allegations of sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church for the entire state of Maine, has been disciplined by a Maine licensing board after she admitted to violating multiple ethics rules governing social workers.  The violations relate to Bloom’s interactions with a woman who reported being abused by a Diocese of Portland priest.

In 2020, Melissa Kearns reported her sexual abuse and exploitation by Rev. Anthony Cipolle to the Diocese of Portland.  One of the people she dealt with during the course of reporting her abuse was Bloom, who is identified on the Diocese’s website as an “independent clinician” and licensed clinical social worker.

According to Ms. Kearns’ allegation, Bloom began providing counseling to Ms. Kearns over the course of several months.  After Ms. Kearns retained Horowitz Law to represent her in a case against the Portland Diocese, our attorneys requested records of the counseling sessions, Bloom denied having provided counseling, despite the fact that they discussed the Cipolle’s alleged abuse and its effects during scheduled calls and meetings over the course of several months. 

Kearns filed a disciplinary complaint against Bloom in December 2022 alleging multiple ethical violations by Bloom. When Bloom applied to renew her license in January 2023, it was denied due to the pending allegations. 

According to a consent agreement between Bloom and the State of Maine entered into in order for Bloom to keep her license, Bloom admitted that she understood how Kearns would have thought the two were in a counseling relationship, and that she failed to recognize and disclose an inherent conflict of interest and otherwise failed to obtain informed consent from Kearns.  She has been censured by the licensing board and must be supervised by a State-approved practice consultant at her own expense for the next year as a condition of her discipline. 

In a media statement, Bishop Deeley told the public that he will take no action in response to the disciplinary action and admitted ethical violations, and affirmed his support of Bloom.  Shockingly, Bloom will continue to be employed by the Diocese to assist in the handling of abuse allegations, according to the Bishop.

Horowitz Law attorney Jessica Arbour issued a statement on Bloom’s discipline:

It’s thoroughly disheartening that a Diocese of Portland staffer – a licensed counseling professional no less – violated her profession’s code of ethics and re-victimized an already-traumatized abuse survivor under the guise of providing support.  It’s stunningly callous for a Diocese official to claim they want to help abuse survivors, only to trick those who are vulnerable and in crisis like Melissa Kearns was. 

It’s crucial now that other abuse victims who have been mistreated by the Diocese of Portland during the reporting process come forward, so that more pain might be prevented. I also call on Bishop Deeley to take the appropriate action to repair the damage that has been done by one of the people he employs to “care” for vulnerable victims of abuse and publicly apologize to anyone else she may have harmed.

Representatives of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) have called for Bloom’s termination by the Diocese.

Kearns settled her claim against the Diocese of Portland for Cipolle’s alleged abuse in late 2022.

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy in the Diocese of Portland in Maine. If you need a lawyer because you were sexually abused by a priest in Maine, contact our office today. Although many years have passed, those abused by Catholic clergy in the Diocese of Portland now have legal options, but filing deadlines may apply so do not delay in reaching out to us. Our lawyers have decades of experience representing survivors of clergy sexual abuse in Maine and nationwide. We can help.

Contact us at 844-291-8935 to discuss your options today.