New York priest says child often seducer in sex abuse cases
NEW YORK, (Reuters) – A Roman Catholic priest in New York expressed sympathy this week for some clergy who sexually abuse children, as well as for convicted child rapist Jerry Sandusky, saying that it is often the “youngster” who is the seducer.
The remarks by the Rev. Benedict Groeschel, 79, co-founder of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal in Westchester County outside New York City, drew strong criticism from the Archdiocese of New York and the support group Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. “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,” Groeschel said when asked by an interviewer from the National Catholic Register, the nation’s oldest Catholic newspaper, about his work with priests who abuse children.
Groeschel, who has published numerous books and hosted shows on the Eternal Word Television Network, suggested that children might seduce priests because they lacked a father figure, adding, “They won’t be planning to get into heavy-duty sex, but almost romantic, embracing, kissing, perhaps sleeping but not having intercourse or anything like that.”
The Catholic Church has been rocked in recent decades by accusations that it tried to cover up the sexual abuse of children by priests and has paid out billions in settlements to abuse victims, bankrupting several U.S. dioceses.
Similar scandals have shaken the lucrative world of college sports, most notably the conviction of Sandusky, a former Penn State assistant coach, for sexually abusing 10 boys over 15 years, most of them in the campus football showers.