20 years, 700 victims: Southern Baptist sexual abuse spreads as leaders resist reforms

As leaders decline to act, the numbers grow. In the past 20 years, about 380 Southern Baptist church leaders and volunteers have faced allegations of sexual misconduct, the newspapers found. They were pastors. Deacons. Ministers. Youth pastors. Sunday school and Christian school teachers. Church program volunteers. They left behind more than 700 victims.

First of three parts

Thirty-five years later, Debbie Vasquez’s voice trembled as she described her trauma to a group of Southern Baptist leaders.

She was 14, she said, when she was first molested by her pastor in Sanger, a tiny prairie town an hour north of Dallas. It was the first of many assaults that Vasquez said destroyed her teenage years and, at 18, left her pregnant by the Southern Baptist pastor, a married man more than a dozen years older.

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Source: Houston Chronicle. 20 years, 700 victims: Southern Baptist sexual abuse spreads as leaders resist reforms

Attorney General Nessel to Catholic Church: Stop self-policing

Nessel asked the Diocese of Lansing and its counterparts to pause internal reviews as her office investigates clergy abuse. That may take up to two years

LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has asked the Diocese of Lansing and its six counterparts across the state to stop self-policing.

And she told Michigan residents not to rely on the church to handle any allegations of sexual misconduct.

“If an investigator comes to your door and asks to speak with you, please ask to see their badge and not their rosary,” Nessel said during a Thursday morning press conference. “Victims may believe that they cannot or should not report abuse to us because the church is going to handle it. That’s simply not true.”

Anyone can report abuse to the attorney general’s office online or by calling an investigation hotline at 844-324-3374. Reports can be made anonymously.

More than 300 tips received

The office has received more than 300 tips of clergy abuse through that hotline, Nessel said.

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Source: Lansing State Journal. Attorney General Nessel to Catholic Church: Stop self-policing

DC attorney general proposes bill to make clergy mandatory reporters

The bill would extend to a range of positions and professions across church, state, and private insitutions, but provides explicit exemptions for the confessional, and priests would not be required to report abuse they learned about in that context.

Excerpts from story as reported in CNA (Catholic News Agency):

.- A law has been proposed in the District of Columbia which will broaden the classification of those required to report instances of child abuse or neglect. The bill would apply to clergy but make exceptions for the sacrament of confession.

“Teachers, health professionals, and clergy have a special responsibility to protect children, but far too often abuse goes unreported or is covered up,” said Attorney General Karl Racine in a statement to the media.

“To help stop child abuse in the District, this bill requires more adults to report it and trains them on how to spot it.”

Currently, everyone over the age of 18 in the District of Columbia is required to report suspected or known abuse of a child under the age of 16 to police. Mandatory reporters, however, are subject to enhanced requirements, and can receive thousands of dollars of fines and up to six months in prison for failing to report cases of abuse.

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Source: DC attorney general proposes bill to make clergy mandatory reporters

New attorneys general to continue investigating clergy abuse

Newly inaugurated state attorneys general are promising to continue investigations of clergy abuse in the Roman Catholic church as thousands of victims are reaching out to state hotlines and online reporting systems

At least 14 attorneys general around the country have confirmed investigations or reviews of clergy abuse in the wake of a shocking Pennsylvania grand jury report in August detailing seven decades of child sexual abuse by more than 300 predator priests. Six of those offices — New York, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, Florida and Delaware — are helmed by newly elected attorneys general, including three of the states reporting the largest numbers of victims contacting them.

Almost 3,000 calls, emails and online reports of clergy abuse have been made in the last five months. Nearly half of those calls were made to the Pennsylvania attorney general’s office after its investigation was released.

That number doesn’t account for reports made to seven states that declined to disclose numbers from their reporting systems to The Associated Press, including states with large Catholic populations like New Jersey and California with a dozen dioceses. The number could be much higher with those included. Several states are seeing lower responses; Delaware reported only five victim contacts as of the beginning of the year.

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Source: Philly.com [Philadelphia Enquirer] New attorneys general to continue investigating clergy abuse

U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia Launches Hotline for Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse by Clergy

WASHINGTON – The Superior Court Division’s Sex Offense and Domestic Violence Section and the Victim Witness Assistance Unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia are launching a hotline and e-mail address for survivors to report child sexual abuse by clergy, U.S. Attorney Jessie K. Liu announced today.

Source: U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia Launches Hotline for Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse by Clergy