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Analyzing Paraphilic Activity, Specialization, and Generalizations in Priests Who Sexually Abused Minors

NCJ Number
Criminal Justice and Behavior Volume: 35 Issue: 5 Dated: May 2008 Pages: 615-628
Jennifer A. Tallon; Karen J. Terry
Date Published
May 2008
14 pages
This study of the crime patterns of 4,392 Catholic priests alleged to have committed child sexual abuse focuses on victim characteristics, notably gender and age.
The study found that very few priests consistently targeted victims with particular characteristics. Because so few priests targeted particular types of victims and because they waited so long before committing their first abusive acts after entering the priesthood, it is not likely that they were driven to commit sexually abusive acts because of intense, sexually arousing fantasies about prepubescent children (pedophilia) or adolescents (ephebophilia). Consequently, it is unlikely that their motivation for entering the priesthood was to have access to children as potential victims of sexual abuse. In addition, very few priests fit the typology of a "pedophile priest." Only 2.2 percent of priests known to have sexually abused children fit the definition of a pedophile based on their deviant behavior. The majority of priests having allegations of sexual abuse had a single victim; and the majority with multiple victims apparently did not seek out a particular type of child to abuse. This analysis drew on data obtained by the study of child sexual abuse by Catholic priests completed in 2004 by researchers at John Jay College. This study obtained reports from the records for all priests and deacons in the United States accused of child sexual abuse from 1950 to 2002. Three surveys were sent to the presiding bishops of all Catholic dioceses, eparchies, and religious communities in the United States. One survey inquired about the characteristics of the diocese, a second requested information on priests with allegations of child abuses, and a third survey requested information on the alleged victims of priest sexual abuse. 5 tables, 1 note and 27 references


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