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Priests Who Abuse and Were Abused: Understanding Victimization in the Catholic Church

NCJ Number
Victims and Offenders Volume: 3 Issue: 4 Dated: October 2008 Pages: 412-422
Karen J. Terry; Cynthia Calkins Mercado; Anthony D. Perillo
Date Published
October 2008
11 pages
This study examined offense characteristics of clerics who were abused in childhood compared with clerics who were not.
Little research to date has examined the relevance of abuse history for distinct types of offenders. This study compared clerics who were abused in childhood with clerics who were not abused in childhood with regard to victim, offender, and offense characteristics. Findings revealed that clergy with a history of victimization tended to have more male victims, began offending earlier in their career, offended for a longer period of time, and were more likely to have a history of substance abuse or other behavioral problems than nonvictimized clerics. Although prior research has not observed a direct relationship between victimization and future offending, these findings suggest that sexual victimization may play a role in the etiological development of distinct offending patterns. (Published Abstract)