Oct. 25, 2019
By Justin Wm. Moyer The Washington Post
Lauren Griffis says she was groomed by a Virginia church youth leader from the time she was 11. The man crept into her life, forging bonds with her family before prosecutors say he sexually abused her multiple times at age 16.
Justice was swift. Two weeks after the physical relationship began, Lauren’s mother called police. The man was arrested in 2016, serving a year in jail for taking indecent liberties with a child as church leaders struggled to respond to a crisis in their congregation.
With a rise in clergy abuse cases coming to light in the MeToo era, some church leaders are becoming transparent with congregants, rather than sweeping allegations under the rug. More than a dozen investigations of the Catholic church were announced last year in the United States, with other scandals among Southern Baptists and evangelical churches.
Experts broadly agree on best practices for church leaders to come forward in abuse cases, but a lack of data and the historical underreporting of sex abuse in the church can make it difficult to know how to address it.
“This issue should never be behind us,” said Boz Tchividjian, executive director of the nonprofit Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment. “It should always be on our radar screen.”
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