Clergy abuse victims haunted by sex harassment news

Associated Press

January 9, 2018

When stories of sexual misconduct by powerful men began to fill the news during the 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, California. “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.

Powerful Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein is under investigation for sexual assault in four cities, and has been accused of everything from unwanted come-ons to groping by dozens of women, including A-list actresses. He has apologized for his behavior with women but denied having nonconsensual sex. He has not been charged with a crime.

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