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Clerics Who Commit Sexual Offenses: Offender, Offense, and Victim Characteristics

NCJ Number
Journal of Child Sexual Abuse Volume: 18 Issue: 4 Dated: July-August 2009 Pages: 442-454
Philip Firestone; Heather M. Moulden; Audrey F. Wexler
Date Published
August 2009
13 pages
This study examined the crimes of clerics who sexually offend and the circumstances related to these offenses.
Consistent with previous descriptions of sexually offensive religious leaders, the typical clergy sex offender in this sample appeared to be 33 years of age, never married, and homosexual. Offenders reviewed in this study leveraged their position to access and abuse the victims. The typical victim appeared to be 11 years of age, was most likely male, and was living in a two-parent family at the time of the offense. The finding that males were at increased risk of victimization in this sample supported the claim that religious leaders who sexually offend were different from the general population of sexual offenders. In police and victim reports, females were consistently identified as the typical victim of noncleric sexual offenders. This compilation and analysis of detailed Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) crime reports yielded descriptions of religious leaders who commited sexual offenses, their potential victims, and offense characteristics. Thirty-three adult male religious leaders who had been charged with a sexual offense against a child or adolescent participated in the study. Tables and references


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