Do not say ‘rape’ but term it ‘inappropriate contact’: Catholic Church

Goa Chronicle [Goa, India]

June 24, 2021

By Savio Rodrigues

FBI analysis on Catholic Church sexual abuse cover-up strategy

In 2018, the FBI’s National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime – the division within the bureau that provides profiles of violent criminals, among other things – reviewed much of the evidence the Pennsylvania Grand Jury received and concluded that its analysis of the material revealed something akin to “a playbook for concealing the truth.”

First, the church employed euphemisms for sexual assault, referring to the crime not as rape, but as “inappropriate contact” or “boundary issues,” center investigators said. In one case, the grand jury reported a priest’s repeated and violent sexual assaults of children were referred to as “his difficulties.”

The Church officials actually follow a ‘playbook for concealing the truth’ – Pennsylvania Grand Jury stated after investigating 70 years of child sex abuse by more than 300 Catholic priests in six dioceses across the state. 

The Pennsylvania Grand Jury report catalogs horrific instances of abuse: a priest who raped a young girl in the hospital after she had her tonsils out; a victim tied up and whipped with leather straps by a priest; and another priest who was allowed to stay in ministry after impregnating a young girl and arranging for her to have an abortion.

That Grand Jury noted that there was a pattern to all the cover-ups in 70 years. The modus operandi of each of the cover-ups of the sexual crime investigated by the FBI appeared to be steps followed from an institutional guide.

Church officials followed a “playbook for concealing the truth,” the reports states. The patterns were similar enough that FBI analyses of the church’s responses yielded seven rules, basically, an institutional guide to covering up abuse. Here is seven principles the jurors note:

  • Make sure to use euphemisms rather than real words to describe the sexual assaults in diocese documents. Never say” rape”; say “inappropriate contact” or “boundary issues.”
  • Don’t conduct genuine investigations with properly trained personnel. Instead, assign fellow clergy members to ask inadequate questions and then make credibility determinations about the colleagues with whom they live and work.
  • For an appearance of integrity, send priests for “evaluation” at church-run psychiatric treatment centers. Allow these experts to “diagnose” whether the priest was a pedophile, based largely on the priest’s “self-reports” and regardless of whether the priest had actually engaged in sexual contact with a child.
  • When a priest does have to be removed, don’t say why. Tell his parishioners that he is on “sick leave,” or suffering from” nervous exhaustion.” Or say nothing at all.
  • Even if a priest is raping children, keep providing him housing and living expenses, although he may be using these resources to facilitate more sexual assaults.
  • If a predator’s conduct becomes known to the community, don’t remove him from the priesthood to ensure that no more children will be victimized. Instead, transfer him to a new location where no one will know he is a child abuser.
  • Finally, and above all, don’t tell the police. Child sexual abuse, even short of actual penetration, is and has for all relevant times been a crime. But don’t treat it that way; handle it like a personnel matter, “in-house.”

FBI analysis during the horrific revelations that came out during the investigations on clergy abuse cases by Pennyslyvania Grand Jury exposes a pattern of coverup institutionalized by the leaders of the Catholic Church. The pattern of coverup when applied to cases globally including follow a similar ‘playbook.’