Skip to comments.Problem of Rampant Sexual Abuse Among Protestant Clergy
Posted on 06/15/2002 1:12:25 PM PDT by big'ol_freeper
Welcome! Catholic sex scandals dominate the news. Are we next?
ALL denominations - 313 instances
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That in addition to answering to the civil law. This is a "render unto Ceaser" thing no matter what denomination.
It is not good, but I was expecting it to be much higher for it to be truly rampant. In any case, if a Protestant church covers up such cases, they get just as much blame from me as the Catholic Church. Apostates must be removed and I can't imagine a child abuser being anything but apostate.
The issue is agenda driven----this will be used to reduce any religious organization as well as its leaders as irrelevant. [a la the Lions Club or the Junior League] Sure they do good things, but they are dispensible.
And here's the opportunity not to respond in kind. The Body of Christ in all its forms needs to stand together against the onslaught of sin, corruption, and glee of the press to overcome these problems. The BuffyT's of the world need to start to understand that. We cannot be drawn into the finger pointing with them.
Clergy Scandal Is Widespread Miami Herald | April 13,2002 | Donna Gelrke-White
Posted on 6/11/02 11:29 PM Eastern by Lady In Blue
She says he gave her counseling -- and that led to sex.
When she complained to his bishop, he told her she was to blame.
Now as plaintiff Jane Doe, she has a sexual misconduct civil lawsuit that last month the state Supreme Court said her denomination -- the Episcopal Diocese of Southeast Florida -- must answer.
While headlines are breaking almost daily about Catholic priests, other religions are facing the same problem : What to do when their clergy are accused of sexual misconduct? From coast to coast, Protestant and Jewish leaders have been charged with sexual abuse -- some in high-profile cases.
In the last three months, local police have arrested two ministers -- both non-Catholic -- for sex crimes.
It's a false impression to think only Roman Catholic priests are involved with sexual abuse, says Dr. Gary Schoener, a Minnesota clinical psychologist and national expert on sex abuse by clergy members. In fact, he estimates two-thirds of the 2,000 cases he worked on during the past three decades involved Protestant ministers. Most involved religious leaders abusing women or teenage girls. The same is true for Catholics, except for the high-profile cases in the Boston Archdiocese and other dioceses where a few priests molested scores of boys.
''But Protestant cases are tougher to bring,'' says Schoener, who runs the Walk-In Counseling Center in Minneapolis. ``With the exception of the United Methodists, you can't charge a diocese, synod or bishop with failure to supervise or negligent retention of an offending minister because they don't employ the pastor -- the congregation does.''
Nonetheless, many religious organizations are requiring background checks and setting up procedures on how to handle abuse cases.
''This is something that all churches are having to deal with -- and we haven't in the past,'' says Mary Cox, communications director for Southeast Florida's Episcopal Diocese.
While she says she can't comment on the ongoing case -- church leaders haven't decided yet whether to appeal the state Supreme Court ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court -- Cox notes the alleged incidents happened before the Episcopal church installed new policies.
''We were once very blind that this could all happen,'' she says.
That changed when a jury awarded a Colorado woman $1.2 million in a sexual misconduct judgment against the Episcopal Diocese of Colorado.
Now, Episcopal Life, the denomination's monthly newspaper, reports that background checks are encouraged for all clergy and church volunteers, and that dioceses adopt sexual misconduct policies and follow procedure manuals, which the Diocese of Southeast Florida now has in place.
All religious groups have certain responsibilities -- and can be held accountable in civil courts, says Yale law professor Peter Schuck. ''They do have an obligation to hire and supervise people with care,'' he says.
In the 1980s, the New Jersey Supreme Court found a house of worship could be held liable for negligent hiring or retention, noting the danger of ``exposing members of the public to a potentially dangerous individual.''
''I think the time has come when society needs to recognize that simply to be ordained is not a license to prey,'' says West Palm Beach attorney Gary Roberts, who represents Jane Doe in Lake Worth.
He added that he is handling another case involving an Episcopal priest in Central Florida accused of molesting a boy at a party.
Religious groups are beginning to conduct their own investigations when sexual allegations surface.
An internal investigation by the Orthodox Union of rabbis, for example, found ''profound errors of judgment'' in its handling of allegations against New Jersey Rabbi Baruch Lanner, who is scheduled to go on trial Monday on charges of criminal sexual contact with two teenage girls.
And many religious groups have installed safeguards -- even without allegations arising in their own congregations.
Since the mid-1990s, Kendall United Methodist Church has required two teachers to be in each Sunday school class for children, said Mary Susan Ward, the congregation's minister of Christian education.
Background screenings are conducted for all paid staff and many volunteers, she said.
Despite measures like this, clergy abuse cases continue to surface.
A Southern Baptist minister, Fernando Garcia, made 26 videotapes of himself abusing numerous children before an 8-year-old boy came forward in Greenwood, S.C., two years ago. He recently began a 60-year prison sentence for sexually abusing 23 children.
Closer to home, Boca Raton Rabbi Jerrold Levy was sentenced to 6 ½ years in prison for having sex with a 14-year-old boy he met over the Internet.
The United Methodists have a case before the Florida Supreme Court to resolve whether the denomination can be held accountable for a volunteer at a Pensacola church who allegedly sexually harassed a female staffer.
And just recently, police in South Florida accused two non-Catholic Christian leaders of sexual misconduct.
Last month, Miami police arrested the Rev. Misael Castillo, 41, the pastor of Iglesia Bautista Jerusalen in Allapattah, after officers said they found him naked inside a parked van having sex with a 17-year-old boy. He was charged with having unlawful sexual acts with a minor and released on a $15,000 bond. Castillo will be arraigned May 6.
Castillo has resigned from the church, said the Rev. David Cleeland, executive director of the Miami Baptist Association, a 280-church organization to which Iglesia Bautista Jerusalen belongs.
In January, youth pastor Monte Vaughn Benjamin of the nondenominational A Place Called Hope was charged with molesting two boys, 17 and 14. He has pleaded not guilty and a trial date is set for May 13.
Benjamin has told church leaders he is innocent. He has been relieved of duties until court proceedings and the police investigation are final, according to a church statement.
For their own protection, religious leaders must institute rules -- for example, not meet alone with children or adults -- to avoid any appearance of wrongdoing, said Fort Lauderdale attorney J. David Bogenschultz, who has represented some pastors.
''It's a shame,'' he said. ``It's the cost of doing business. You are in harm's way -- you have to protect yourself.''
The Herald wire services also contributed to this report.
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