... if the cases of reported abuse were spread evenly across the country, every average-sized congregation with 400 members would include seven women in their midst who have experienced clergy sexual misconduct at some time since they turned 18.
The Associated Baptist Press reports on a book on clergy sexual abuse by Diana Garland and Mark Chavez, How Sexual Misconduct Happens:
Appearing on Michel Martin's "Tell Me More" program, Garland said if the cases of reported abuse were spread evenly across the country, every average-sized congregation with 400 members would include seven women who have experienced clergy sexual misconduct at some time since they turned 18. That includes only women who go to church regularly, not those who stopped attending after their abuse.
Instead of looking at the psychological makeup of abusers, Garland and co-author Mark Chaves of Duke looked for factors that set up a congregation for abuse.
Listen to the interview here. Excerpt:
MARTIN: Now Professor Garland, your study about sexual wrongdoing among clergy surveyed both men and women. And I just wanted to ask: What were some of the patterns that you found about how this occurred? What were some of the through-lines?.
Prof. GARLAND: Well, in the interviews that I did, I found very similar patterns in which clergy have access to the private lives of persons in their congregation, with very little oversight about their relationships.
That coupled with our expectation that clergy are above reproach, that they're the most ethical, that they are to be trustworthy, means that we let down our guard with them in ways that we may not with other persons in our lives.
Sometimes the first what we call boundary-crossings are hard to really pinpoint. He, or she, may hold the hand of a parishioner in prayer but hold it a little too long and a little too caressing, and that's very hard to call
The five characteristics of a climate for abuse are:
1. Lack of Personal or Community Response to Situations that “Normally” Call for Action
2. Culture of Niceness
3. Lack of accountability
4. Overlapping and Multiple Roles
5. Trust in the Sanctuary