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Between the Pew and the Pulpit: Can Personality Measures Help Identify Sexually Abusive Clergy?

NCJ Number
Sexual Abuse-A Journal of Research and Treatment Volume: 6 Issue: 31 Dated: 2019 Pages: 686-706
Date Published
21 pages
Since there has been limited conclusive research that has examined the personality characteristics of clergy who perpetrate sex abuse, the current study sought to develop a personality profile that distinguishes clergy members who sexually abuse children from other clergy.

Personality and psychopathology were assessed using the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory-2 (MMPI-2) and the Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory-III (MCMI-III). Data were obtained and analyzed from a sample of clergy members in four comparison groups: clergy members referred to treatment for (a) child sexual abuse, (b) sexual misconduct with adults, (c) general clinical problems, or (d) routine employment evaluations with no previously identified clinical or sexual issues. Although differences were found between groups, only the Aggressive/Sadistic scale of the MCMI-III consistently distinguished clerics who sexually abused children from all other clergy members. Findings are discussed regarding the utility of the MMPI-2 and MCMI-III as a screening tool for clerical applicants for the Catholic Church. (publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: January 1, 2019