While child sexual abuse is an issue that reaches into nearly all walks of life, it is frequently associated with the Catholic Church, and has been for decades. Whether or not this association is deserved is a matter of debate, but it seems that priest sexual abuse allegations continue to surface regularly.
Recently, a 56-year-old priest in Northeastern Pennsylvania was criminally charged on several counts related to child sexual abuse. Authorities discovered the man in a parked car with a 15-year-old boy who wasn't wearing any pants. He later admitted that the two had met and arranged the encounter on Craigslist.
In the wake of his arrest, officials in the priest's diocese have made announcements in parishes where the man has previously worked. They asked "anyone who may have been involved in or may be aware of any abusive situation involving" the priest to contact the district attorney's office.
It is unclear if other children or teens also suffered sexual abuse. However, the priest's work history shows that he was reassigned to different churches frequently throughout his 25-year career. He also took three leaves of absence during this time. Two were for unspecified "medical reasons," and one was not explained at all.
This evidence is not incriminating in and of itself, but it certainly paints a familiar picture. The Catholic Church has long been criticized for sheltering priests known to have abused children and reassigning them rather than reporting them to police. If the same is true in this case, additional victims may finally have the courage to speak up now that the priest has been arrested.
Source: TimesLeader.com, "Priest in sex case released on bail," Roger DuPuis, Sept. 24, 2013