Prominent priest blames sex victims, says first-time abusers shouldn’t face jail

The Christian Century

Aug 30, 2012 by David Gibson and Daniel Burke

c. 2012 Religion News Service NEW YORK (RNS) The Rev. Benedict Groeschel, a prominent author and speaker who is especially popular with conservative Catholics and bishops, has sparked outrage by saying that priests who sexually abuse children “on their first offense” should not go to jail.

He added that in “a lot of cases,” the child is “the seducer.”

The New York-based Franciscan also expressed sympathy for Jerry Sandusky, the former Penn State assistant football coach who was convicted in June of 45 counts of child sexual abuse in a scandal that rocked college football and dominated the news much as the clergy crisis has.

Groeschel’s comments, in an interview published Tuesday (Aug. 28) by the National Catholic Register, spread like wildfire around the Internet after they were reported by Religion News Service, and they prompted comparisons to Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin’s controversial remarks about “legitimate rape” and abortion.

They also threatened to raise more questions about the hierarchy’s response to the abuse scandal even as the bishops have been hoping to turn the corner on a decades-long scandal that has cost billions in settlements and damaged the church’s moral standing.

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