Clergy sexual misconduct: What´s being done to squelch it?
This subject is something that shouldn't be ignored until it hits close to home. Many people assume that their place of worship is completely safe -- unlike those dangerous places where foolish women get raped -- but that isn't true.
The issue of clergy sexual abuse has gained increased attention in the 10 years since it was first investigated by JTA. That earlier investigation, which focused primarily on rabbis who sexually coerce adult congregants, indicated that the problem was more widespread than had been assumed -- and that the Jewish establishment was beginning to grapple with it, but not always effectively.
For example, formal denominational policies governing rabbinic conduct were sometimes slow to develop. Although behavioral guidelines are now the norm, some other systemic problems uncovered in that earlier JTA series still persist.
Sexual exploiters inhabit all areas of our society so all large organizations need to have a plan in place for how to deal with these violations of trust. Some exploiters are cold blooded plotters while others rationalize abusing the trust they are given by calling exploitation an equal relationship that hurts no one.
The extra challenge comes in when the guilty party is someone we look up to and turn to for spiritual guidance and comfort. If there isn't a process, those who make the decision of what to do may let their stunned disbelief lead them into covering up criminal activity and alienating the victims from their spiritual home.
Technorati tags: crime politics sexual violence sexual assault feminism