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Recent Peer-Reviewed Publication in Journal of Crime & Justice

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.

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Recent Peer-Reviewed Publication in Journal of Interpersonal Violence

On April 8, 2015, Journal of Interpersonal Violence published via OnlineFirst a manuscript written by Kendra and I.

The article is titled: “Techniques of Neutralization and Persistent Sexual Abuse by Clergy: A Content Analysis of Priest Personnel Files from the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.” The abstract of the manuscript reads as follows:

The sexual abuse problem in the Catholic Church has received considerable attention by the media in recent years and growing attention from empirical researchers. Despite this growth, there is a lack of theoretical research that uses neutralization techniques to examine clergy offending. Using Sykes’ and Matza’s theory, this study examines the techniques of neutralization used by accused priests in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. Priests’ personnel files, which were made publicly available by the Archbishop of Milwaukee in July 2013, were analyzed retrospectively through a qualitative content analysis of all direct statements and correspondences from the accused. The findings indicate that many priests denied responsibility or injury in an effort to justify their sexually abusive behaviors, but that no discernible patterns of technique use emerged. The need for continued research using recently released personnel files from other dioceses 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.