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Clergy Abuse in Context – Teachers Sexually Abuse Students Far More Often

NEW YORK, February 6, 2004 ( – In order to put recent scandals “in perspective”, a report from the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights seeks to fairly compare the incidence of sexual abuse by Catholic priests with clergy from other denominations, and with other professionals. The League argues that isolating the incidence of sexual abuse from the context of the greater problem is “grossly unfair”. The report reassures that it does not “seek to exculpate anyone who had anything to do with priestly sexual misconduct.” The Catholic League report underscores the reality that the incidence of sexual abuse by clergy is, in comparison, far less than the incidence among other professionals. A survey by the Washington Post found that “Over the last four decades, less than 1.5 percent of the estimated 60,000 or more men who have served in the Catholic clergy have been accused of child sexual abuse.” And a similar survey by the New York Times found an incidence rate of “1.8 percent of all priests ordained from 1950 to 2001.” The league report also highlights the fact that “Almost all the priests who abuse children are homosexuals. Dr. Thomas Plante, a psychologist at Santa Clara University, found that ’80 to 90% of all priests who in fact abuse minors have sexually engaged with adolescent boys, not prepubescent children,'” the report continues, underscoring the fact that the ordination of priests with homosexual tendencies may be the real problem. In contrast, the League report reveals that “In a 1984 survey, 38.6 percent of ministers reported sexual contact with a church member, and 76 percent knew of another minister who had had sexual intercourse with a parishioner.” In 2002, Christian Ministry Resources reported on national surveys they conducted which concluded that “Despite headlines focusing on the priest pedophile problem in the Roman Catholic Church, most American churches being hit with child sexual-abuse allegations are Protestant.” The incidence of abuse by teachers is even more staggering, as a 1988 study reported in The Handbook on Sexual Abuse of Children reveals. It reported that “One in four girls, and one in six boys, is sexually abused [by a teacher] by age 18.” A 1991 study revealed that “17.7 percent of males who graduated from high school, and 82.2 percent of females, reported sexual harassment by faculty or staff during their years in school. Fully 13.5 percent said they had sexual intercourse with their teacher,” the report states. “In a survey for the Wall Street Journal-NBC News, it was found that 64 percent of the public thought that Catholic priests frequently abused children,” the League reports. This is not surprising, considering the “media fixation” on the issue, the League says. It is, however, “Outrageously unfair,” they conclude. Read the report at: See a related Special Report, “Roots of Sexual Abuse in the Church: Homosexuality, Dissent and Modernism,” at: