Friday, July 30, 2010

Facts and figures: More on sexual abuse of children by priests

The whole article (from Newsweek, posted at AQ) is worth reading, but these are the three paragraphs which I would highlight:

Since the mid-1980s, insurance companies have offered sexual misconduct coverage as a rider on liability insurance, and their own studies indicate that Catholic churches are not higher risk than other congregations. Insurance companies that cover all denominations, such as Guide One Center for Risk Management, which has more than 40,000 church clients, does not charge Catholic churches higher premiums. "We don't see vast difference in the incidence rate between one denomination and another," says Sarah Buckley, assistant vice president of corporate communications. "It's pretty even across the denominations." It's been that way for decades. While the company saw an uptick in these claims by all types of churches around the time of the 2002 U.S. Catholic sex-abuse scandal, Eric Spacick, Guide One's senior church-risk manager, says "it's been pretty steady since." On average, the company says 80 percent of the sexual misconduct claims they get from all denominations involve sexual abuse of children. As a result, the more children's programs a church has, the more expensive its insurance, officials at Guide One said.

The only hard data that has been made public by any denomination comes from John Jay College's study of Catholic priests, which was authorized and is being paid for by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops following the public outcry over the 2002 scandals. Limiting their study to plausible accusations made between 1950 and 1992, John Jay researchers reported that about 4 percent of the 110,000 priests active during those years had been accused of sexual misconduct involving children. Specifically, 4,392 complaints (ranging from "sexual talk" to rape) were made against priests by 10,667 victims. (Reports made after 2002, including those of incidents that occurred years earlier, are released as part of the church's annual audits.)

Experts disagree on the rate of sexual abuse among the general American male population, but Allen says a conservative estimate is one in 10. Margaret Leland Smith, a researcher at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, says her review of the numbers indicates it's closer to one in 5. But in either case, the rate of abuse by Catholic priests is not higher than these national estimates. The public also doesn't realize how "profoundly prevalent" child sexual abuse is, adds Smith. Even those numbers may be low; research suggests that only a third of abuse cases are ever reported (making it the most underreported crime). "However you slice it, it's a very common experience," Smith says.

Reginaldvs Cantvar
Feast of Sts. Abdon and Sennen, Martyrs, A.D. 2010


Cardinal Pole said...

Notice: There will be no edition of Notes today, since the only news/discussion board/blog item I want to highlight today is the one in this post, and the only blog comment I've made today is this one:

"Cardinal Pole
July 30, 2010 at 3:51 am

"Congratulations, Louise! I’ll keep praying for the two of you for at least a little while yet."

Do keep praying for Louise and her newborn baby.)

Anonymous said...

I am at a loss as to the point you are making in this post. It seems to indicate that all Christian communities have had a problem with pederasty and other sexual misconduct by clergy and religious.

This is hardly news, the Greek Fathers warned that pederasty was a problem in common life, even for monks.

It also misses the point. The scandal is not so much that it happened - after all the Church is a community of the sinful - but the way that is was handled by the hierarchy. The bishops by their actions and inactions participated in perpetuating this abuse.

The bishops' motivations certainly varied, but the common thread was to protect the reputation of the Church and to protect their priests. A quote about millstones and injuring the faith of children is apposite here.

The other point that it misses is that if the Church is to be leaven in society, the beacon in the hill, she must behave with somewhat more probity than the rest of society. We can't point to the corrupt society we live in and say, "The Church is no worse".

In this case, not only has the shepherd failed to protect the sheep, he was attacking and scattering the sheep.

Anne Nonny Mouse

R. J. Stove said...

For every million words published in the media about clerical perverts (oh, sorry, I meant to write "pedophiles"), scarcely one word has been published about lay perverts. This is scheduled to change during August, when America's Remnant magazine apparently intends to run an exposé of the recently dead Melbourne lay sex criminal (and "Catholic" "intellectual") Ronald Conway, whose heresies and vicious practices - notably in the training of seminarians - were shamelessly indulged by one archbishop after another from 1969 to 1996.

Anonymous said...


Please stop the womanish stupidity.

It's clear you can't really be a christian, otherwise you'd have heard of the Gospels - those writings where a man who was also God told the pharisees - criminals of the worst kind - to remove the plank in their eye before requiring their brother to remove the speck in theirs. That is what Pole is getting at.

That there were (relatively few) child abusers, and an appreciably large number of sodomites, but still a tiny minority, and less than in society (and other professions) in general should not be a scandal to anyone who is aware that one of the twelve - around 8% of the apostles - was guilty of something far worse. Did that stop the apostles from being a leaven?

Or what about the corruption of the church at Corinth? Did that stop the apostolic church from being a leaven?

Now stop your foolishness.

+ Wolsey

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Mr Wolsey,

your response to Miss Mouse is fascinating. Not only is it ad hominem, abusive, insulting and condescending, your argument is logically invalid and it misses her point.

Since you clearly do not know her, I would also counsel some restraint in passing judgement about her Christianity or otherwise.

Surely the world can expect that the Church practices (or least tries to practice) what preaches. Otherwise, she is not better than the pharisees.

As for Corinth, the Apostle Paul did what our apostles (the bishops) should have done: condemned and put a stop to it, NOT covered it up and permitted it to continue!


Cardinal Pole said...

More 'facts and figures' on the matter:

"Pedophile Priests. The Social Construction of a Moral Panic"

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