A prominent NY friar has come to the defense of priests who have been caught in sex scandals with underage boys, claiming that oftentimes, the priests are “seduced” by teens. Father Benedict Groeschel of the conservative Franciscan Friars of the Renewal made his comments in an interview with the National Catholic Register. As if claiming teens seduce pedophiles wasn’t a disgusting enough sentiment, Groeschel also expressed sympathy for Jerry Sandusky, calling him a “poor guy.”
“People have this picture in their minds of a person planning to—a psychopath,” Groeschel told them when asked about his work with sexual abuse perpetrators. “But that’s not the case. 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.” He continued, arguing that those kids are looking for father figures: “It’s not so hard to see—a kid looking for a father and didn’t have his own—and they won’t be planning to get into heavy-duty sex, but almost romantic, embracing, kissing.”
The friar, who is based in Westchester but does outreach in the Bronx and Brooklyn, doesn’t think priests should go to jail if they are caught for the first time having a sexual relationship with a child: “I’m inclined to think, on their first offense, they should not go to jail because their intention was not committing a crime.” He argued that there is a precedent for that attitude toward priests abusing children: “Until recent years, people did not register in their minds that it was a crime. It was a moral failure, scandalous; but they didn’t think of it in terms of legal things. If you go back 10 or 15 years ago with different sexual difficulties—except for rape or violence—it was very rarely brought as a civil crime.”
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