Clergy sexual misconduct: What's being done to squelch it?

By Eugene L. Meyer, Richard Greenberg

Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA), January 2007

The issue of clergy sexual abuse has gained increased attention in the 10 years since it was first investigated by JTA. That earlier investigation, which focused primarily on rabbis who sexually coerce adult congregants, indicated that the problem was more widespread than had been assumed -- and that the Jewish establishment was beginning to grapple with it, but not always effectively. Since that original investigation was published, the Catholic Church has been rocked by a massive pedophilia scandal, while the Jewish community has been buffeted by high-profile cases of sexual impropriety involving rabbis and other authority figures. Now virtually all denominations, except segments of fervent Orthodoxy, now have formal codes on the books that outline unacceptable clergy behavior and mandate precisely how complaints of sexual impropriety are to be investigated and adjudicated by in-house ethics panels. In a three-month-long investigation, JTA examined those policies with the help of mental health providers, victims' advocates, rabbis and others whose assessments reflected a mix of encouragement and skepticism. Among the findings of this six-part series:

-The anti-abuse guidelines represent a well-intentioned yet sporadically flawed attempt to address a problem that had once been neglected entirely. One evaluator gave the policies a C-plus grade, another a C-minus

-The system, according to critics, suffers from an institutional fear of lawsuits and excessive secrecy âboth byproducts of an ethical quandary faced by decision-makers. They must balance an individual's right to privacy against the obligation to protect the public from a potential sexual predator.

Topic: Privacy, Policy, Abuse, Clergy, Religious Denominations, Synagogues and Congregations

Name of Publication: Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) Investigative Series: Reining in Abuse

Editor: Greenberg, Richard , Meyer, Eugene L.

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Genre: Article

Coverage: United States

Language: English

Copyright Holder: Publisher

Copyright Information: Download for personal use, freely distribute link

Bibliographic Information:
Meyer, Eugene L. Greenberg, Richard. Clergy sexual misconduct: What's being done to squelch it?. Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) Investigative Series: Reining in Abuse. Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA). January 2007: http://www.bjpa.org/Publications/details.cfm?PublicationID=9951


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