PRIESTS AND CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE
By: Dean Tong
February 7, 2009
Accusations of child sexual abuse against the Catholic Church rocked the Globe in 2002. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops commissioned a comprehensive study that found four percent of all priests who had served in the U.S. from 1950 to 2002 faced some sort of sexual accusation. The Church came under fire for “failing to protect” its children such as choir boys and “failure to report” to state authorities sexual crimes perpetrated by its own. The Church was accused of policing its own priests and that it represented the fox guarding the hen house by shuffling the same from parish to parish, but still leaving kids-at-risk and in harms way of prospective priest molestation.
By 2008, the U.S. Church had trained 5.8 million children to recognize and report abuse. It had run criminal checks on 1.53 million volunteers and employees, 162,700 educators, 51,000 clerics, and 4,955 candidates for ordination. It had trained 1.8 million clergy, employees and volunteers in creating a safe environment for children. To this writer’s knowledge, all priests under the guise of accusation were alleged to have perpetrated acts of hebephilia and ephebephilia; or in layman’s terms, allegations of molesting post-pubescent, adolescent boys.
A late 2008 and recent case of a priest under child molest fire in Florida is that of Father Ronald Joseph. The Ft. Myers, Florida diocese is investigating allegations he molested a 16 year-old boy in 1993, some 15 years ago. “I didn’t do anything to anybody,” he said and that he was “falsely accused.” Father Joseph stated the diocese treated him as presumed guilty and that he suffered from suicidal ideations over the allegations. The policy of the diocese is to remove anyone accused of sexual abuse from their ministry pending the outcome of their investigation. The “Diocesan Review Board” deemed the boy’s (now a man at age 31) allegation credible, but has yet to say it was criminal in nature and that their investigation continues.
About 15% of my caseload as a forensic trial consultant and expert witness in court deals with child sex accusations from 10 – 20 years ago. These delayed memory recall outcries with no physical evidence oftentimes are the result of the complainant visiting a well-meaning but misguided therapist. The therapist sees the child (or in the case of Fr. Joseph, an adult) for depression, anorexia, bulimia, or substance abuse, and after multiple sessions of dream therapy, art therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, and even hypnosis, the next thing you know the adult-child was sexually abused by his homosexual priest 15 years ago. This is called Recovered Memory Therapy (RMT) and make no mistake – there is virtually no empirical data that supports the psychobabble theory of “repressed memories due to sexual abuse.”
I’m not excusing those child sex abuse priest cases where the same confessed and were guilty. Clearly, there were and are homosexual priests throughout the world and the problem had to be addressed by The Vatican. According to a recent report released here. The Vatican urged all candidates for the priesthood to be psychosexually tested for hebephilic/ephebephilic tendencies. Psychologists or psychiatrists would administer tests such as the Abel Screen, perhaps the Penile Plethsmograph which recently received mention by a US Court of Appeals (Click Here), and MSI-II to glean if an incoming priest possessed sexual interest/arousal patterns consistent with a child sex offender, poor impulse control, the presence of cognitive distortions, and anti-social personality.
Obviously, this is a complex, large and expensive problem. The solution will not be easy or inexpensive either. And not all experts are created equal so does the Diocese choose the mental health evaluator or does the secular community do so? When I conducted media interviews in 2002 over the Catholic Church child sex scandal, I then called for psychosexual testing of priests. Now in 2009, some seven years later it may become required policy, and we’ll be able to weed out the bad priests from the normal ones before more problems ensue.