CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE LAWSUIT
According to the World Council of Churches, churches have a vital role to play in the lives of every American by promoting justice and peace in the world.
Clergy are formal leaders within established religions. The specific names and roles of the clergy vary by denomination, and there is a wide range of formal and informal clergy positions, including deacons, elders, priests, bishops, preachers, pastors, and ministers. Their roles and functions vary in different religious traditions, but usually involve presiding over specific rituals and teaching their religion’s doctrines and practices. There are approximately 400,000 people employed as Clergy in the U.S.
As members of organized religion, clergy have become heroes and mentors of young men women, and play a vital role in shaping their minds and building character.
There are approximately 50-65 million Catholics, 5-6.5 million Mormons, 140-165 million Protestants (50 million Baptists; 3-4 million Episcopalians).
Sexual Abuse Claims / Concerns
Sexual abuse by clergy has occurred for hundreds of years, but it became the subject of widespread publicity in 1984 with the celebrated case of Father Gilbert Gauthe in Lafayette, Louisiana. Recently however, church officials, congregations, and professional organizations have begun to deal more openly with it. Within faith communities and ministries professional misconduct can involve pastors, lay leaders, camp staff, volunteer church leadership, or representatives of a faith community.
Today, thousands of clergy have been identified as perpetrators of sexual abuse, and the number of victims believed to have been abused are likely to be in the tens of thousands.
Clergy misconduct includes sexualized behavior, inappropriate words and innuendo, harassment, threats, physical movement and contact, hugs, kisses, touching, intercourse, emotional and spiritual manipulation. It is a grave injustice toward another person, which violates personal boundaries. At the same time, it violates the entire religious community, because a sacred trust with the congregation has been betrayed.
According to the nonprofit advocacy organization BishopAccountability.org, the average settlement amount for victims of clergy sex abuse is approximately $268,000.
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