Sexual misconduct scandals remind clergy victims of abuse: The dynamics of authority and acquiescence are similar themes in the crimes, victims say

Associated Press via Register-Guard

December 24, 2017

By Gillian Flaccus

When stories of sexual misconduct by powerful men ­began to fill the news this fall, Manny Vega immediately flashed back to his childhood. He saw strong similarities between the recent allegations against producers and politicians and his own abuse as a child by his parish priest.

“The parallels are in the power dynamics,” said Vega, a former police officer and decorated Marine who lives in Oxnard, Calif. “Whether you’re the leader of a church or the leader of a film studio, you’re ­going to be someone people look up to and someone people go to for guidance. It puts the victim at a horrible ­disadvantage.”

While there are key differences, the sexual harassment detailed in today’s headlines shares the same well-worn themes that made it so hard for Vega and hundreds of other clergy abuse victims to come forward more than a decade ago: fear of retribution and disbelief, impossible power dynamics and confidential settlements that bury complaints.

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