The Roman Catholic Church has covered up years of child sexual abuse by priests. The crisis is institutional. With the involvement, and cooperation, of bishops, archbishops, and even cardinals. The Pennsylvania Grand Jury report, now supported by investigations in several other states, has exposed the truth of their pious hypocrisy.
The church spent millions of dollars over several years to protect priests whose sexual abuse of children scarred them for life. The church’s response according to the New York Times, “Avoid scandal. Use euphemisms. Ask inadequate questions. Lock complaints away in a ‘secret archive’. Above all, don’t tell the police.”
The Pennsylvania report also showed how society shielded the church with police, district attorney’s, and other community leaders protecting pedophile priests rather than the children they are sworn to serve.
In the Sandusky Penn State scandal not only was Jerry Sandusky jailed but so was Former President Graham Spanier, Former Athletic Director Tim Curley, and Former Vice President Gary Schultz. All spent time in jail, all paid significant fines, and all were made to perform hundreds of community service.
These men of God; these bishops, archbishops, and cardinals, they continue to walk free.
Not all sexual abuse is by priests and football coaches. Most kids are sexually abused by a family member or family friend. Silent unwilling partners in an act of terrifying adult power and control. Often an act a child may know is wrong, but an act that silences them through shame and coercion.
That form of terrifying power and control leaves lifetime scars. These scars are known as Adverse Childhood Experiences, or as they are more commonly know, ACEs.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Kaiser Permanente Foundation conducted the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study in the 1990’s. A massive study, over seventeen thousand people participated in the first study. The study has now been repeated several times in multiple different populations with similar results. It shows ten forms of trauma are significantly responsible for seven of the top ten leading causes of death.
These ACEs don’t just cause children to lead shorter, sicker lives. Children with multiple ACEs are far more likely to require special education, develop relationships with the criminal justice system, and have premature babies. Human sex traffickers prey on abused children. Many survivors self-medicate with drugs and alcohol.
Shockingly the study found that just one of these ACEs broadly grouped as abuse, negligence, and other household challenges like, living in household with domestic violence, or drug and alcohol abuse, doubles the chance of that child growing up to become an alcoholic. There are other social, medical, and psychological consequences too. The CDC estimates that the lifetime costs associated with child maltreatment at $124 billion.
Sexual abuse is a serious crime; more so when you consider it’s lifetime consequences and impact on communities. Like any serious crimes, those that commit them, and those that aid and abet them should be held accountable; but today they are not.
Today, statutes of limitations exist in many states that protect perpetrators from justice. One of the reasons that only one in ten child sex abusers ever spend a day in prison. We are supporting bills in two states, New York and Pennsylvania, to remove statutes of limitations on sexual abuse.
The major opponents to this bill, the big institutions who have aided and abetted. Led by the Roman Catholic Church, forgiving themselves their sins, and preventing the passage of bills that will protect children from all sexual predators, not just Priests.
The Roman Catholic Church have forgiven their own sins for too long. They have prevented the passage of legislation to protect children in order to protect their own secrets and pocket book.
The Pennsylvania Attorney General’s report has confirmed what many survivors have known for a long time. The Roman Catholic Church, and other institutions, child molesters and rapists must be held accountable.
You can read more on our campaigns in New York and Pennsylvania here.
Andrew was a Captain in the British Army before practicing integrated marketing communications and marketing, mostly for global brands. A survivor of child sexual abuse, domestic violence, and suicide, Andrew dedicated the second half of his life to protecting children from trauma.