How to Deal with Clerical Sex Abuse

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The following is a checklist for victims of clerical sex abuse. If you, or anyone you know, has become a victim of clerical sex abuse, either as a minor or adult, you need to do the following as quickly as possible…

  1. CALL THE POLICE! Seriously, this should always be the FIRST thing you do without exception. Even if you’re not sure if an actual crime has been committed. Chances are, you’re probably not a lawyer or cop. So call the police and let them figure out if any laws have been broken. That’s their job! Let them do it. Just file the police report, and get it on record ASAP.
  2. CONTACT THE PRESS, and by that I mean a specific media outlet called Church Militant. They’ve started a new service, specifically for the survivors of sexual abuse, and anyone who might have information about corruption (of any kind) among clergy in the Catholic Church. It’s called the Church Militant Action Arm (click here). They hire private detectives, at their expense, to investigate your tips, and then hand the information over to law enforcement. Your anonymity is guaranteed.
  3. CONTACT YOUR BISHOP’S CHANCERY OFFICE. This should be the LAST thing you do, AFTER contacting the police and press first. Why? Because there’s only a 50% chance your bishop will do anything. It really depends on the bishop and the diocese. The bishops’ track record has been horrendous on this. The bishop should be notified, so he can do something if he’s willing, but if you don’t feel comfortable doing it, don’t worry. If you’ve contacted the police first, as you should have, they can handle this step for you.

Remember the order: (1) POLICE, (2) press and then (3) bishop. It must always be in that order. The sole reason why this kind of corruption has gone on in the Church for so long is because victims have reported things in the wrong order. They went to the bishop first, who did nothing. Then years later, after it was too late to do anything, they finally went to the police. Only after they learned that nothing would be done, because the statute of limitations had expired, they went to the press. By going in the wrong order, they were victimized twice. Don’t let that happen to you or your loved ones. If you want the abuse to STOP, then notify the right people in the right order: (1) POLICE, (2) press and then (3) bishop.

One thought on “How to Deal with Clerical Sex Abuse

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  1. Please DO NOT tell people to call 911 unless they are dealing with an actual life-or-death emergency at that red-hot second. They should call the local police dept. (in the jurisdiction where the crime(s) actually occurred instead. Also, the victim and/or his/her parents should definitely go in to the police station to file a written police report, and then request a copy of the police report as filed so that they can fact-check it for accuracy and “spin.”
    The first problem is, here in Illinois where I am licensed to practice law, there are laws on the books about not abusing the 911 system. The reason is (second problem) the 911 system and the first responders are underfunded, understaffed, and need to be able to devote 100% of their time and resources to dealing with true life-and-death emergencies. If one starts calling 911 about non-life threatening emergencies, here in IL they will give you one and only one warning not to do it again. After that, you may find yourself on the receiving end of criminal charges for abusing the system.
    The reason for going in to the police station to file the police report is that many police depts. will refuse to take a report at all unless you get very, very ugly with them. The reason for that is, once a police report is one file, the crime(s) mentioned eventually get reported into the crime statistics. The police and by extension all local gov’ts DO NOT want it getting out, just how bad the crime situation in their area is.
    An example might clarify matters: 33+ years ago, when I was working my way through law school at night in Chicago, a classmate of mine was a building engineer in a residential apt. building in a truly horrible neighborhood on the West Side. He found himself letting the police into an apt. one day to do a well-being check. They found the young female tenant, dead, in the bathtub, horribly mutilated and sexually violated. Since rigor mortis had set in, the police told him they were putting it down as natural causes. That’s right, not as homicide!
    I could multiply examples ad nauseum, but I think this one suffices.
    If the police do give the victim and/or his/her parents any flack about taking an accurate police report, do not hesitate to tell them your next stop will be the state’s attorney’s office to report the police for failing to do their job. And the next one will be a local TV station.
    Then, once the police report is on file, make sure it is factually accurate and complete. Again, if the abuse occurred on 5-6 occasions, you do not want the police report showing it as a single offense. If the matter goes into criminal charges and/or civil litigation, you will not want this to come back and bite you.
    I apologize for the length of this comment, but as you can see, we do not want people who have already been criminally victimized to find themselves on the wrong end of the legal system. Also, it helps to know a little about how to navigate the system, esp. if you live in a higher crime area.

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