For many people, their church is a sacred place that they rely upon for spiritual support and guidance.  Of any organization, a church should be a place that you can trust – and most importantly that you can trust with the safety of your child.  But in many cases, churches have been the center of some of the most cases of of sexual assault against children. 

Many churches have a long and shameful history of intentionally hiding sexual abuse of children.  More recently, due to the hard work of reporters, the long and dark history of the Catholic church is being slowly uncovered.  But many other denominations and churches have also failed children and attempted to cover it up:  

  • The press has been reporting that there are at least 700 known victims of sexual assault, perpetrated by hundreds of Southern Baptist clergy and staff.  In many cases, the perpetrators have remained in their positions of power within the church. 
  • A growing list of victims have been reporting sexual assault within the Jehovah’s Witnesses.  Just as is seen in many other denominations that have allowed this to occur, the church often took punitive measures against the victims for daring to report the abuse. 

Perpetrators have infiltrated parishes seemingly in every state in the country, accounting for thousands of cases of abuse.  Most known cases of sexual abuse began occurring several decades ago. Quite clearly predators determined that they could gain unsupervised access to children.  The cycle has repeated itself thousands of times over decades. Why hasn’t the church reacted to what they knew was occurring?  Why, instead, did it choose to shelter perpetrators instead of excommunicating them and reporting them to the authorities? 

Chris Dove
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Child Sexual Assault Attorney Practicing Nationwide