What is Clergy Sexual Abuse?
Clergy sexual abuse is when someone of power within the church sexually exploits, abuses, or harasses another person. The abuse may be perpetrated upon children or adults. The abuse may include sexualizing conversations, sexual acts, touching, sexual images/videos, jokes, invading another person’s personal space, creating a hostile environment, emails, calls, and other types of pressure.
The crime is using the position of power to intimidate and pressure another individual into doing things they don’t want to do. The victim feels defenseless and may comply out of fear.
Sexual Misconduct is Not Consensual
In many cases, the situation may be seen as an affair or consensual relationship when it is not. If the other person feels pressure because of the role of the clergy member, then they are not consenting of their own free will.
Thirteen U.S. states have laws prohibiting clergy members from engaging in sexual misconduct with adults.
Many churchgoing people turn to clergy members for advice and counseling. Any sexual misconduct pollutes that relationship sowing the seeds of mistrust.
Sexual Misconduct Stats
Unfortunately, clergy sexual abuse happens more often than you might think. At least 2-4% of churchgoing women have experienced some sexual advances from a clergy member.
The abusers are typically 45-60 years old, and more than half are married.
Where to Turn for Help
Even if the laws in your state do not criminalize sexual misconduct of clergy members, you may still have some legal recourse. Contact Baron and Herskowitz for help in these matters. We care about your case and will help you get the damages you deserve for the abuse you have experienced.