White collar crime: vulnerable women, predatory clergymen

DOIhttps://doi.org/10.1108/14668203200200026
Pages23-33
Publication Date01 Nov 2002
AuthorMargaret Kennedy
SubjectHealth & social care,Sociology
key words
professional abuse
vulnerability
power and consent
church guidance
abstract
This paper examines themes
that emerge from supporting adults
who have been sexually violated by
Church ministers and clergy.The
author suggests that despite
obstacles put in place by churches of
all denominations, victims are
beginning to speak out.
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Policy and researchoverview
The Journal of Adult Protection Volume 4 Issue 4 • November 2002 © Pavilion Publishing (Brighton) Limited 23
In the last eight to ten years as founder and co-ordinator of
MACSAS,2a group for clergy abuse victims, I have supported
women and men who have been sexually violated within the
clergy/ministerial (pastoral) relationship as adults.
Research into this area
Chibnall, Wolf and Duckro (1998) conducted a study with a
sample of 1,164 Roman Catholic sisters in America. They were
looking at the sexual trauma experiences of these nuns and
their findings are alarming. Nineteen per cent of the nuns
reported sexual abuse in childhood. The prevalence for sexual
exploitation during religious life was 12.5% (N=146); 40% of
this group had two or more experiences of sexual exploitation
(4.9% overall). The prevalence for sexual exploitation by
Catholic priests was 6.2%, nuns 3.1%, and lay people 2.4%
(0.9% unidentified). The highest single prevalence was
associated with Catholic priests acting as spiritual directors
(2.3%). Other roles identified by priest perpetrators included
pastor, retreat director, counsellor and mentor.
Blackmon (1985) in a PhD study of 300 clergy in southern
California, comprising clergy from four denominations
(Assembly of God, Episcopal, Presbyterian and United
Methodist), found:
111 (37%) reported engaging in sexual behaviour
inappropriate for a minister
36 (12.67%) reported sexual intercourse with a Church
member other than their spouse
76% of the clergy reported knowledge of another minister who
had engaged in sexual intercourse with a Church member.
White collar crime:1
vulnerable women,
predatory clergymen Margaret Kennedy
Founder/Co-ordinator, CSSA and MACSAS
1 This paper is adapted from the Mary Edwardes Memorial Lecture to SPANA
Survivors of Professional Abuse National Association, June 30 2000, Kensington
Town Hall.
2 Minister and Clergy Sexual Abuse Survivors, a self-help group for women and men
sexually abused by clergy either as children or adults. Address: MACSAS c/o BM-
CSSA, London WC1N 3XX.

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