A new study shows that sexual orientation is not predictive of which Catholic priests commit child molestation.
A preliminary report commissioned by the nation’s Roman Catholic bishops to investigate the clergy sex abuse scandal has found no evidence that gay priests are more likely than heterosexual clergy to molest children, the lead authors of the study said Tuesday. The full report by researchers at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice won’t be completed until the end of next year. But the authors said their evidence to date found no data indicating that homosexuality was a predictor of abuse. “What we are suggesting is that the idea of sexual identity be separated from the problem of sexual abuse,” said Margaret Smith of John Jay College, in a speech to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. “At this point, we do not find a connection between homosexual identity and the increased likelihood of subsequent abuse from the data that we have right now.”
The question has been raised repeatedly within and outside the church because the overwhelming majority of known victims were boys. As part of the church’s response to the crisis, the Vatican ordered a review of all U.S. seminaries that, among other issues, looked for any “evidence of homosexuality” in the schools. Yet, many experts on sex offenders reject any link between sexual orientation and committing abuse. Karen Terry, a John Jay researcher, said it was important to distinguish between sexual identity and behavior, and to look at who the offender had access to when seeking victims.
The church spent $2M on the study, presumably looking for proof that gay men are largely the cause of its now decades-long molestation scandal. The Catholic Church has paid more than $2.3B in almost 14,000 molestation-related settlements.