Home » Research » Update – Early Spring 2016

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 In response to this editorial, I submitted a “Letter to the Editor” that went unpublished; it is presented below in its entirety: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.

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