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Baylor Study: Sexual Misconduct Common Among Clergy

Courtesy of Baylor University

Courtesy of Baylor University

“Kimberly” turned to the minister at her Baptist church for counseling to cope with family tragedies. But soon her pastor was plying her with gifts and a job in his office. Eventually he persuaded her to have sex with him.

“The guilt I was feeling was overwhelming,” Kimberly said. “Nothing I had been through before compared to the guilt and pain.”A new study from Baylor University School of Social Work in Texas shows Kimberly’s plight is common. In the average U.S. church congregation of 400 members, seven women have experienced sexual misconduct at the hands of a trusted minister, priest or rabbi, the study said.

Yet the problem is often ignored, partly because there is little oversight of clergy, the study said. American culture also expects people to be nice to each other, especially in a religious setting. So many people don’t want to raise a fuss and excuse or ignore sexual misconduct by clergy.

The study said there should be more public education about abuse of power and sexual misconduct.

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