On December 23, 2014, the Journal of Crime & Justice published an article written by Kendra and I along with our colleague James Bowers of Saginaw Valley State University.
The manuscript is titled: “Neutralizations and a history of ‘keeping the lid’ on it: How church leaders handled and explained sexual abuse in one diocese.” The article abstract reads as follows:
While much is known about the sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church, there are very few criminological studies on the topic. This research adds to that knowledge base. This study examines the techniques of neutralization used by diocesan personnel in their efforts to justify priests’ abusive behaviors and temper public knowledge of what was occurring behind closed doors. Over 4,000 pages of documentation, from 42 priest files, unsealed by the Archdiocese of Milwaukee in July 2013 were analyzed retrospectively via qualitative content analysis of all statements consistent with neutralization techniques. Findings indicate that diocesan personnel were most likely to deny injury and responsibility, and that some were very forthright about covering up these crimes. The need for continued qualitative research using more recently released files, as well as surveys and interviews with Church leaders, also is discussed.
Special thanks to the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs at University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire for providing funding through the Summer Research Experiences for Undergraduates grant program and to Preston for his research assistance.