John Jay to U.S. bishops: homosexuality is not a predictor of clergy abuse (updated)
Big news from the AP:
A preliminary report commissioned by the nation’s Roman Catholic bishops on the roots of the clergy sex-abuse scandal found no evidence that gay priests were more likely than heterosexual clergy to molest children, the study’s lead authors said yesterday.
The full $2 million study by researchers at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice won’t be completed until the end of 2010. But the authors said their evidence to date found no data indicating that homosexuality was a predictor of abuse.
UPDATE: Longer analysis by David Gibson over at Politics Daily.
“What we are suggesting is that the idea of sexual identity be separated from the problem of sexual abuse,” said Margaret Smith, a researcher from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, which is conducting an independent study of sexual abuse in the priesthood from 1950 up to 2002. “At this point, we do not find a connection between homosexual identity and an increased likelihood of sexual abuse.”
A second researcher, Karen Terry, also cautioned the bishops against making a correlation between homosexuality in the priesthood and the high incidence of abuse by priests against boys rather than girls — a ratio found to be about 80-20.
“It’s important to separate the sexual identity and the behavior,” Terry said. “Someone can commit sexual acts that might be of a homosexual nature but not have a homosexual identity.” Terry said factors such as greater access to boys is one reason for the skewed ratio. Smith also raised the analogy of prison populations where homosexual behavior is common even though the prisoners are not necessarily homosexuals, or cultures where men are rigidly segregated from women until adulthood, and homosexual activity is accepted and then ceases after marriage.
When asked by a bishop at Tuesday’s meeting whether homosexuality should be a factor in excluding men from the seminary, Smith responded, “If that exclusion were based on the fact that that person would be more probable than any other candidate to abuse, we do not find that at this time.”