Clergy-perpetrated sexual abuse of minors – case study
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Akademia Pedagogiki Specjalnej im. Marii Grzegorzewskiej, Instytut Psychologii, Zakład Psychologii Klinicznej Człowieka Dorosłego
Submission date: 2020-05-25
Final revision date: 2020-06-10
Acceptance date: 2020-06-11
Online publication date: 2022-02-27
Publication date: 2022-02-27
Corresponding author
Anna Więcek-Durańska   

Akademia Pedagogiki Specjalnej im. Marii Grzegorzewskiej
Psychiatr Pol 2022;56(1):137-152
The main objective of the study was not only to show the scale of child sexual abuse by clergy itself, but rather presentation of the manner in which perpetrators act and what their motivations are.

It involved aqualitative and quantitative analysis of documentation gathered by the Foundation dedicated to supporting victims of sexual abuse by clergy. For the purpose of the study the authors prepared a survey which included information pertaining to the circumstances of the abuse, the abuser, the aggrieved person, as well as legal and non-legal consequences (sanctions). Finally, information pertaining to 80 criminal cases from 2001–2019 in which the perpetrator (member of the clergy) was sentenced by afinal and binding judgment was gathered.

On the basis of analysis of the empirical material, various models of the perpetrators’ modi operandi have been developed, which included also the methods of selecting the victims or types of actions taken to keep the abuse of minors secret. As part of the analyzes, the characteristics of the aggrieved persons were also developed, and the characteristics specific to various models of clergy behavior were distinguished.

Attention should be drawn to the fact that in many of the cases the clergy perpetrated child sexual abuse consisted in direct physical violence, as well as regular sexual intercourse. Also, not all perpetrators were required to undergo appropriate diagnostic tests in order to verify whether they have a disorder of sexual preference in the form of pedophilia. In the studied group of cases, in every third case the perpetrator, after disclosure of the acts, was transferred to another parish, where other similar acts took place.

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