The University of Notre Dame will present Kathleen McChesney with its 2020 Laetre Medal, the the oldest and most prestigious honor given to American Catholics. She has served as an FBI executive assistant director and is a leading expert in addressing the Catholic Church’s sexual abuse and coverup crisis.
McChesney’s 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.