Last week a New York priest said he “deeply regrets” the hurt caused by his comments regarding clergy sexual abuse of minors. His remarks, accusing child sex abuse victims of seducing their accusers, generated outrage in the public and were repudiated by church leaders.
In an interview by the National Catholic Register, the Franciscan Friar was asked about working with priests facing allegations of sexual abuse. “Suppose you have a man having a nervous breakdown, and a youngster comes after him. A lot of the cases, the youngster – 14, 16, 18 – is the seducer,” the Friar stated. He also added that individuals “on their first offense, they should not go to jail because their intention was not committing a crime.”
The Friar later posted on his website that “I did not intend to blame the victim. A priest (or anyone else) who abuses a minor is always wrong and always responsible.” The friars described his remarks as “out of character,” and said that his health and cognitive ability have been failing in past months.
The Archdiocese of New York repudiated the Friar’s comments in an online statement. Although the Friar is not a priest with the Archdiocese he has worked with it on past occasions.
The director of the Survivors Network for those Abused by Priests (SNAP) said comments like those made by the Friar discourage victims and witnesses of sexual abuse from coming forward and are like “rubbing salt into the wounds of already-suffering victims.”
Source: The Wall Street Journal, “NY priest ‘deeply regrets’ sex abuse comment,” August 31, 2012
Our firm handles child sex abuse cases. For more information visit our New York clergy abuse page.