"Victim's Courage May Lead To Justice"


An editorial in the Concord Monitor on June 5, 2010 provides a supportive message to victims who speak out about the abuse they experienced:

"The pursuit of justice will require that [the victim] disrupt her life and that of her family and relive painful pieces of her past. We applaud her courage."

The editorial was related to the case of Deacon Ernest Willis of Trinity Baptist Church, Concord, New Hampshire, reported below.


Young Adults and Adolescents

At Risk of Sexual Abuse by Clergy


Philip Jenkins is Distinguished Professor of History and Religious Studies at Penn State and author of Pedophiles and Priests: Anatomy of a Contemporary Crisis (1996).

Jenkins states in his essay, "The myth of the ‘pedophile priest,’" published in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (March 3, 2002):

The vast majority of clergy misconduct cases … involve priests who have been sexually active with a person … 16 or 17 years old, or even older.


A Vatican spokesman recently reiterated this point, clarifying the view from the top:  it's the teens who comprise the majority of those victimized when they are minors.  In an article by Hilary Whiteman, "Gay outrage over cardinal's child abuse comment," CNN (April 14 2010), Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi stated:

… just 10 percent of the abuse cases against priests that were reviewed by the Vatican constituted ‘pedophilia in the strict sense.’  The rest were cases of abuse against teenagers … 


Link to alphabetical list of news stories of alleged abuse

Link to news about the clergy sexual abuse crisis in Europe and around the world

Link to news articles on statutes of limitations


Young Women and Girls At Risk


Jennifer Medina. "Los Angeles Archdiocese to dismiss priest over admission of molesting girl." New York Times (February 12, 2011).

Martin P. O'Loghlen, was once a leader in his religious order and was appointed to an archdiocesan sexual abuse advisory board, although officials at both the order and the archdiocese knew at the time about his admission of sexual abuse and addiction. … Father O'Loghlen had sex on several occasions with Julie Malcolm in the 1960s while she was a student at Bishop Amat High School in nearby La Puente … O'Loghlen became the provincial leader in the western region for the religious order of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary …


Mary Ormsby. "Church scandal's next wave:  Abused girls." The Star Canada (April 25, 2010).

"That is so prevalent, it happens all the time," [Patrick Wall, California-based expert on Catholic clergy abuse] said of the abortion runs, which in part accounts for his belief that teenaged girls are the silent majority of priest-related sexual abuse.
The former priest [Patrick Wall] said the church is particularly vicious with women, deploying its ‘whore defence’ to paint schoolgirls as harlots and intimidate them from pursuing criminal and civil complaints.


Pat Wingert and Barbara Kantrowitz in a recent article ask: "What about the girls? Boys aren't the only victims of the Catholic Church's sex-abuse scandal." Newsweek (April 15, 2010).

[As explained by] Barbara Dorris, a victim of priest abuse as well as the national outreach director for SNAP: "In part because of sexism and homophobia, journalists, police, prosecutors, attorneys, and sometimes even parents feel even more outraged when a boy is sexually abused by a powerful man than when a girl is assaulted, and are thus more apt to take action, pursue charges, file lawsuits, and talk publicly."


Thomas Farragher and Matt Carroll discuss numerous cases in which the "Church board dismissed accusations by females" in their 2003 article of that title in the Boston Globe (February 7, 2003).

"It's almost a free pass when it comes to women and young girls," said Roderick MacLeish Jr., a lawyer representing Shanley's alleged victims.


Jane Lampman identified the widespread abuse of girls and women at the time of the US clergy abuse crisis in 2002: "A wider circle of clergy abuse: As US bishops meet, attention is drawn to female victims of priests." Christian Science Monitor (June 14, 2002).

For girls and women, the challenge of coming forward is heightened by the inclination of the church and society to blame females for abuse. "Church officials historically have been much quicker to blame girls than boys. When women come forward the response has been, ‘Well, what did you do to seduce them?’" says Jeff Anderson, a Minnesota attorney specializing in clergy abuse cases who in just the past two months of scandal revelations has been contacted by 50 females alleging abuse by priests.


Seminarians At Risk


Some young adult victims were in the midst of seminary training to become ministers themselves when the alleged abuse occurred.


At Risk in Many Denominations


Teens and young adults of either gender can be sexually violated by clergy.   As news reports of alleged abuse illustrate, this problem occurs across denominations.


Articles on insurance companies that provide liability coverage for churches shed further light on the prevalence of sexual abuse across denominations, as well as the difficulty of compiling data on the actual number of cases.




Michael Paulson of the Boston Globe reported in a 2002 article that sexual abuse of children and teens occurs across numerous denominations. "All faiths question handling of abuse: Debate over celibacy as factor is rancorous." Boston Globe (March 13, 2002).

The scourge of clergy sexual abuse has afflicted virtually every religious denomination: In recent years rabbis, ministers, and gurus have all been charged with molesting children. Hare Krishna temples are filing for bankruptcy because of the anticipated cost of settling abuse litigation, and the Jehovah's Witnesses are facing a first round of lawsuits.


Philip Jenkins, Distinguished Professor of History and Religious Studies at Penn State, wrote Pedophiles and Priests: Anatomy of a Contemporary Crisis (1996). In his essay, "The myth of the ‘pedophile priest’", published in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (March 3, 2002), Jenkins states:

Literally every denomination and faith tradition has its share of abuse cases, and some of the worst involve non-Catholics. Every mainline Protestant denomination has had scandals aplenty, as have Pentecostals, Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, Jews, Buddhists, Hare Krishnas, and the list goes on.


At Risk Around the World


Countries across Europe from Austria, Germany and Ireland to Denmark, Italy, Norway and the Netherlands are currently experiencing a "clergy sexual abuse crisis" similar to that instigated by reports that appeared in the Boston Globe in 2002. In the years following the Globe's expose of clergy sexual abuse in the Catholic church, cases of abuse have been reported across a spectrum of denominations around the country and around the world. Allegations of abuse have also been reported from Canada and Latin America. Many of the international cases being reported in early 2010 involve young children as well as adolescents, seminarians and young adults.

Professor Marci Hamilton, Paul R. Verkuil Chair in Public Law at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law of Yeshiva University, argues in a recent essay that the United States and the United Nations should act more forcefully in response to the allegations of child sex abuse being reported around the world.


The Case of Cardinal Bernard Law




Allegations of Sexual Abuse of Children and Teens Around the World

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For background information and news articles from around the world regarding clergy sexual exploitation of adults, see Boundary Violations Without Borders.
















































Allegations of Abuse and the Statute of Limitations

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Back to international news reports

Link to alphabetical list of news stories of alleged abuse


Reporting Abuse

It is widely reported that victims of sexual abuse often remain silent, even for decades, about what happened to them. It is not uncommon for some victims to "find their voice" when others break their silence.

For more background articles on why victims remain silent, click here. For further information on the grooming process used by sexual predators, click here.








Differing Positions Regarding Statutes of Limitations















It's the Bishop Who Decides What Abuse Is?

According to a recent National Public Radio report, even when the alleged victim is a minor, bishops themselves decide not only whether the incident constitutes abuse, but also whether the accusation is credible or not.

Kettlekamp says that since 2002, the bishops have adopted strict policies to identify abusers … [but] how to interpret those rules is left up to the individual bishops. … what constitutes abuse is left to their discretion. … NPR has reported on some cases where … the investigator or bishop did not find the allegation credible.  Read the report by Barbara Bradley Hagerty, "U.S. bishops quietly reinstate accused priests." NPR (March 31, 2010).


Alphabetical List of Cases of Alleged Abuse Reported in the News

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Legal Definitions of the Age of Consent

State laws vary in how the age of consent is defined. For a summary of current state legal definitions of the age of consent, see:

US Department of Health and Human Services. Statutory Rape: A Guide to State Laws and Reporting Requirements.


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Minister not named