This Article identifies the present posture of child abuse and admits that the incidence of child sexual abuse among members of the clergy is documental. Indeed, incidents of child abuse seem to be more common each day throughout all segments of the population. This has affected public trust and the public has responded by revoking such traditional clerical prerogatives as the priest-penitent privilege, developing a theory of abuse in gestation, and demanding better treatment for offenders through therapy.
The precise scope of this Article is to offer recommendations concerning the legal, medical and social predicament of pedophilia regarding issues that affect clergy. Rather than avoid the issue, the Article further admits that society is justified in seeking redress through the criminal process and that victims are entitled to fair compensation in the civil courts. Clerics are not immune from this redress. Nonetheless, the focus of the Article is upon recommendations that will address the needs of all involved. Because children are involved, emotions can predominate, but when asking legislators and society to address the predicament, reason must predominate. Thus, Part I will address the issue of abuse; Part II the medical evidence available to address the problem; Part III the criminal and civil law violations; and finally, Part IV will offer recommendations.
Raymond C. O'Brien, Pedophilia: The Legal Predicament of Clergy, 4 J. CONTEMP. HEALTH L. & POL’Y 91 (1988).