Sexual Abuse & the Church

Modified on 2009/10/14 21:50 by admin
"The church must be forever building,
For it is forever decaying within and attacked from without."
-T.S. Eliot

In 2002, one of the most destructive scandals in the history of the Catholic Church came to light, changing the way we look at religious dignitaries forever.

In January 2002, former Catholic priest John Geoghan was convicted of indecently fondling a 10-year-old boy in the early 1990s. During his trial, it was discovered that church leaders in Boston, including the archbishop, Cardinal Bernard F. Law, had moved Geoghan around the archdiocese for years despite numerous complaints he was molesting children. By the end of January, investigators revealed that Law had secretly settled sexual abuse claims against dozens of priests since 1993. As news of the abuse spread around the world, hundreds of victims came forward claiming Boston Archdiocese priests had molested them.

By March 2002, Catholic priests in Florida, Ireland and Poland had resigned, admitting they had sexually abused young clerics. In December 2002, after details emerged indicating that leaders simply transferred priests accused of sexual misconduct in an effort to protect the church's reputation, Cardinal Law, facing enormous pressure from interest groups and other Catholic priests, resigned his position. By 2003, dioceses around the country had settled dozens of sexual abuse lawsuits, costing the church millions of dollars. At least 500 more cases are currently pending against the Archdiocese of Boston alone.

Unfortunately, the Catholic Church is not the only organization facing a molestation scandal. In April 2003, a CBS News report revealed widespread abuse among Jehovah's Witness leaders. In 2002, two Minnesota women, both 22, filed lawsuits against a former elder of their congregation as well as the headquarters of the Jehovah's Witnesses, alleging a member of their church molested them before they were teenagers. After the lawsuit was filed, former elders came forward alleging that sexual abuse was rampant among Jehovah's Witnesses, with thousands of children possibly being molested over the years.

If you or a family member has been sexually abused by a member of your church, it may be important to contact an attorney who can help you protect your legal rights. Please keep in mind that there may be time limits within which you must commence suit.

See Also

  1. Jehovah's Witnesses & Sexual Abuse
  2. Mary Help of Christians School - Tampa
  3. Sexual Harassment: Overview
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