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Yearly Archives: 2016

Manuscript in Journal of Sexual Aggression

In our summer update, we mentioned that the Journal of Sexual Aggression accepted our manuscript “Neutralisation and sexual abuse: A study of monks from one Benedictine Abbey.”

As of July 15, 2016, the article is available on the journal’s site. Please read it if you have a moment.

Currently, Jason and a team of two research assistants are analyzing additional files of credibly accused monks from the same abbey. In addition to identifying techniques of neutralization, they are assessing sexual grooming techniques used by the alleged offenders.

Summer 2016 Update

The CARC has spent that past four months finalizing manuscripts and starting new research projects. It is our intent to provide more frequent updates and posts to this site in the future. Given the slew of news on clergy abuse throughout the country lately, it is incumbent on us to use our platform more often.

That said, we have several updates:

  1. Last week, the Journal of Sexual Aggression accepted our manuscript, “Neutralisation and Sexual Abuse: A Study of Monks from One Benedictine Abbey,” for publication. The manuscript, co-authored by Jason Spraitz, Kendra Bowen, and Shavonne Arthurs, details the neutralization techniques used by monks and others affiliated with St. John’s Abbey in Collegeville, Minnesota, and discusses the concealment of allegations from civil authorities and the general public. Once published, we’ll link to the abstract and provide a copy on our ResearchGate pages, if allowable.

    A couple notes about the process that resulted in the publication of this manuscript:

    First, the editorial staff at the Journal of Sexual Aggression was a great group to work with during the review process, which included two “revise and resubmit” decisions. Despite this, the review process took less than three months and we received comments from two reviewers each time; when the reviewers’ comments conflicted with each other, the outstanding managing editor provided sound guidance and advice. Compared to some other review experiences, working with JSA was a breath of fresh air.

    Second, Kendra and I want to publicly thank Shavonne for her work on this project. Currently, Shavonne is a doctoral candidate and instructor in the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. A faculty member recommended her to us and she did a splendid job as our research assistant and co-author.

  2. In equally exciting news, we have completed a research project that we first reported on last September. Jason and Louisa examined the files of 16 priests from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Joliet in Illinois. Data suggested the presence of widespread sexual grooming that was similar to grooming behaviors used by non-clergy offenders. But, there was another grooming tactic used that was unique to clergy offenders. Louisa created a poster and presented it at the annual Celebration of Research and Creative Activity extravaganza at University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire. Then, with the help of Kendra, the three of us co-authored a manuscript about this project that is currently under publication consideration; because of this, we are purposefully providing limited information about the manuscript.
  3. On March 6, 2016, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette published a Letter to the Editor that Jason wrote. The letter was in response to the investigation of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Altoona-Johnstown and expressed the need for more transparency and accountability when allegations of sexual abuse are made.
  4. In February, we reported that we applied for an SREU grant from the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs (ORSP) at University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire. The reviewers were favorable towards our proposal and ORSP awarded $6,300 to Jason and two students. They are examining sexual grooming tactics and techniques of neutralization used by 18 credibly accused monks from St. John’s Abbey. The ongoing research is an offshoot of the research that was just accepted for publication in JSA in which files for 5 monks were analyzed. The two student research assistants have started coding the files.
  5. In an effort to explore more ways to disseminate this research publicly, Jason will participate in a summer writing residency focused on podcasting. The residency is through the Chippewa Valley Writers Guild.

Update – Early Spring 2016

  1. In early-December, we received a “revise and resubmit” from the editorial staff of the Journal of Child Sexual Abuse. Reviews were mainly positive with several astute suggestions of ways to improve the manuscript. By late-December, we resubmitted a revised draft of the manuscript for publication consideration; we are still awaiting a final decision.
  1. In our post from September 14, 2015, I reported that a student and I received a Student-Faculty Research Collaboration grant from the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs at the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire. Over the course of the fall semester, our student collaborator coded the content of 16 unsealed priest files from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Joliet in Illinois. Preliminary analysis of the data suggests a high rate of grooming behaviors by accused priests from this particular diocese. Currently, our collaborator is working on a literature review of sexual grooming research as well as preparing a poster for the annual Celebration of Excellence in Research and Creative Activity at UWEC. In addition to the poster, we plan to prepare a manuscript for publication consideration and present findings at the Midwestern Criminal Justice Association meeting in September 2016.
  1. Earlier in February, I submitted a Summer Research Experience for Undergraduates grant proposal to ORSP at UWEC. If awarded this grant, I will work with another student collaborator during the upcoming summer to analyze 18 recently unsealed files from St. John’s Abbey in Collegeville, Minnesota. Five files from the abbey were made available in 2014, yet it wasn’t until mid-January 2016 that all 18 files were unsealed. We intend to investigate patterns of justification and deflection of self-blame as well as continue looking for grooming behaviors and other themes that are apparent.
  1. On February 11, 2016, the Editorial Board of The New York Times published an editorial titled “Tracing the bishops’ culpability in the child abuse scandal.” It was a well-crafted and articulated argument for more accountability in the Church. In response to this editorial, I submitted a “Letter to the Editor” that went unpublished; it is presented below in its entirety:

“To the Editor:
The New York Times editorial “Tracing the Bishops’ Culpability” (February 11) was timely when considering other various media reports that the Vatican is advising newly-appointed bishops that they do not have to report sexual abuse by clergy to legal authorities. This mandate is alarming for several reasons, but it is especially distressing because it upholds the decades-long modus operandi under which sexually abusive priests were allowed to continue their criminal behaviors while their superiors willfully disregarded the safety of children and the needs of the victims. At this point, I await the response of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to these instructions. As part of mandatory reporting statutes, more than 20 U.S. states specifically require clergy to disclose knowledge of sexual abuse to legal authorities. Ignoring these statutory requirements would deepen the wounds caused by generations of abuse and allow it to continue unrestrained for the foreseeable future.”

  1. Congratulations to the Globe Spotlight Team as well as the writers, producers, actors, director, and staff involved with the film Spotlight for their big win last night at the Academy Awards. From a professional standpoint, I’ll never be able to measure how instrumental the Globe Spotlight Team has been to my academic research; this is the article that started it all. But, more importantly, their willingness to expose abuses within the powerful Catholic Church has affected change and given voice to those previously silenced. Thank you for the work you do.