Survey Exposes Magnitude of Catholic Priest Sex Scandal

A New York Times survey examining the US Catholic priest sex abuse scandal in the last 60 years further quantified the appalling magnitude of the problem–over 4,200 claims have been made against more than 1,200 priests, the newspaper reported. The most extensive collection of data available on the subject, the Times survey details disturbing trends among the accused priests. Greater than half were blamed for molesting multiple victims, most of whom were boys, and abuse–though most frequent during the 1970s and 1980s–was widespread, with 161 of 177 dioceses in the US suffering accusations. Interviews with clergy, former clergy, victims, therapists and other experts point to a multitude of culprits, including the church’s secretive culture, a sexually repressive and socially isolating seminary environment, and repeated denial of the problem by church officials. Although most recent data demonstrate a decline in the number of sex abuse cases, many experts stress that the numbers only represent what’s been reported. Dr. Mary Gail Frawley-O’Dea, sexual abuse expert of the Trauma Treatment Center of the Manhattan Institute for Psychoanalysis explained, “It takes a lot of survivors until their mid-20’s, when they have accumulated enough life experience, to know they were messed up,” according to the Times.


NY Times 1/12/03; Washington Post 11/1/02

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