The Media

Volume 25, Number 3    December 2003

Richard Sipe: The worst is yet to come

If you think the sexual abuse crisis is winding down, think again. Psychotherapist/author Richard Sipe told two overflow audiences the worst is yet to come. He ought to know: he's been an expert witness in 160 court cases in the U.S. and Canada, and a consultant to 11 grand juries in the last two years.

When Boston Globe reporters began preparing its January 2002 exposé, Sipe said, they thought there might be up to 15 priest offenders. They ended up reporting 192. Later the state's attorney-general put the number at 242, with at least 1,000 victims. The scope of the crisis keeps astounding even the most knowledgeable researchers. Nationwide, 434 priests have been suspended in the past two years. In Los Angeles alone, 500 victims have made allegations. Back in 1985, the hierarchy laughed at Sipe's contention that six percent of priests sexually abused minors. Today, though the Vatican admits only one percent, in diocese after diocese seven or eight percent is common.

Sipe said discovery has moved through three stages: 1) that some priests abused minors; 2) that many priests did so, and many had multiple victims; and 3) that the clerical system made it possible, often by deceptive cover-ups. But Sipe said two more levels are still to come. He predicted 4) that public awareness will grow still wider, as more bishops and even cardinals will be accused in the next year, and 5) that a network of clerical blackmail will come to light.

Sipe warned: beware of euphemisms. Priest abusers didn't just “touch” the children. He then delivered sickeningly graphic details from actual court cases of the ways priests ensnared and raped kids under a pretense of piety, while counseling them, or hearing their confession, or vesting for Mass. “Details of what priests did to kids are not generally known, but the juries hear the details. That's why they will award untold millions of dollars in damages.”

source: 2003-12/sipe.html


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