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Q: Misconduct of spiritual leaders ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   0 Comments )
Subject: Misconduct of spiritual leaders
Category: Miscellaneous
Asked by: qpet-ga
List Price: $80.00
Posted: 23 Mar 2003 10:57 PST
Expires: 22 Apr 2003 11:57 PDT
Question ID: 179911
Are there any reliable sources for data on misconduct of spiritual
leaders? (In any form, misappropriation, sexual misconduct....)
Any statistic or research?
Subject: Re: Misconduct of spiritual leaders
Answered By: bobbie7-ga on 23 Mar 2003 17:09 PST
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hello Qpet,

My search returned the following results for data and statistics on
misconduct of spiritual leaders.


Anne A. Simpkinson in her article “Sexual Abuse by Spiritual Leaders
Violates Trust, Devastates Lives, and Tears Communities Apart” cites
several studies and provides statistics:

“A nine-year-old survey of evangelical ministers conducted by the
research department of Christianity Today magazine and published in
the 1988 Leadership Journal found that:

- 12% of clergy surveyed admitted to having sexual intercourse with
someone other than a spouse
 -23% stated that they had been "sexually inappropriate" with someone
other than their spouse.”


“A 1991 national survey of mainly Protestant pastors by a group at the
Center for Ethics and Social Policy, Graduate Theological Union, in
Berkeley, California uncovered similar findings:

- About 10% of those surveyed had been sexually involved with a


“Another study published in the winter 1993 Journal of Pastoral Care
found that:

- 6.1% of Southern Baptist pastor respondents admitted to having
sexual contact with a person either currently or formerly affiliated
with their church.
- 70% of respondents said they knew of pastors who had had sexual
contact with a congregant.”


“A.W. Richard Sipe, a former Roman Catholic priest and current
Baltimore, Maryland, psychotherapist suggests:

- Nearly 50% of Catholic priests break their vow of celibacy by
engaging in some form of sexual activity.
- 6% of priests have sexual contact with youngsters
- 2% with children under 10 years
- 4% with adolescents. 
- Sexual abuse of minors is only part of the problem. Four times as
many priests involve themselves sexually with adult women, and twice
the number of priests involve themselves with adult men."


“The United Methodist Church sponsored a 1990 study that examined
sexual harassment or unwanted behavior ranging from suggestive looks
and unsolicited touching to attempted or actual assault and rape --
within its ranks.

-  41.8 % of the clergywomen surveyed reported unwanted sexual
behavior by a colleague or pastor
- 17% of laywomen said that their own pastors had harassed them.”

“Most professionals agree that the problem is far-reaching not only in
Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish congregations but in Buddhist sanghas
and Hindu ashrams as well. Abuse by spiritual leaders is
nondenominational, and the dynamics between clergy and parishioners,
between gurus and devotees, between spiritual teachers and students,
bear striking resemblances to one another. From profiles of the
perpetrators and victims to the impact on the spiritual communities
and their ways of dealing with the situation, clergy sexual
malfeasance is an ecumenical reality, one that has probably been with
us as long as civilization and one that is not about to go away.”

Advocate Web: Soul Betrayal


According to research done by Professor Nancy Ammerman and the Rev.
Dr. Terry Schmitt from the Hartford Institute for Religious Research:

“When asked if each of the congregations they had served had ever
experienced a "breach of trust" with their minister, the answer in
just over half the cases (271) was yes.

Was the problem always sexual? No. 

- In fact, non-sex-related incidents outnumbered sex-related ones 149
to 122.

- In 60 cases, they reported that clergy had been perceived as abusing
their power.

Sometimes they had arbitrarily made decisions about programs or staff.
Sometimes they were unfair supervisors. For whatever reason, they had
stepped beyond the bounds of what their members perceived as the
proper limits of the ministerial office.


- In 18 cases, the problem was the failure to handle money

- In 25 cases, the minister was seen as untrustworthy because of the
way he or she failed to protect the confidentiality of what
parishioners told them.

- In 19 cases, the pastor was simply seen as incompetent, while in a
few other cases the problem was alcoholism or mental illness.


Overall incidence rate in these 532 congregations does not vary
significantly by denomination. Episcopalians and Southern Baptists are
as likely to have had a sexual breach of trust as are Methodists and
Catholics. Nor are there significant differences by region. Churches
in Texas are as likely as those in New England or the Bay Area to
suffer this type of problem. Nor are rural churches more immune than
suburban or urban ones. The only significant social difference that
emerged is that larger congregations seemed more vulnerable.

- 31% percent of large churches, compared to 16% of small ones had had
a sex-related incident.”

Hartford Institute for Religious Research


In an article dated June 20, 2002 by Cal Thomas: There's a good reason
Protestant pastors aren't casting stones:

"Joe E. Trull concludes that 'from 30 to 35 percent of ministers of
all denominations admit to having sexual relationships -- from
inappropriate touching and kissing to sexual intercourse -- outside of
marriage.' Mr. Trull estimates that 'at least half' of that contact
occurs in pastoral counseling."


A 1984 survey by Fuller Seminary of 1,200 ministers found one in five
theologically conservative pastors admitting to some sexual contact
outside of marriage with a church member, with more than two-fifths of
theologically "moderate" and half of theologically "liberal" pastors
confessing to similar behavior.”

Copyright Tribune Media Services Inc.


“Reliable research over the past fifteen years concludes that about
10-12 percent of ministers have engaged in sexual intercourse with
members of their congregation, and about 25-35 percent of clergymen
have admitted to sexually inappropriate behavior with parishioners.”

Christian Ethics Today


Joe E. Trull in a speech to Austin Baptist ministers and in Broken
Trust: Confronting Clergy Sexual Abuse, Baptist General Convention of

“Present research and numerous studies indicate the incidence of
sexual abuse by clergy has reached horrific proportions—about 12
percent of ministers have engaged in sexual intercourse with members
and 30-35 percent acknowledges sexually inappropriate behavior.”

Christian Ethics Today


From Christian Ethics Today:

“For years congregants and the wider community have assumed ministers
are persons of integrity, worthy of respect and trust. Yet, from King
David’s illicit affair with Bathsheba to Jim Bakker’s liaison with
Jessica Hahn, the reputation of spiritual leaders has been tainted by
sexual scandal. Most preachers begin their ministries with good
intentions. Yet as they face sexual temptation, some succumb.”


“Numerous studies over the past decade support the research of
pastoral counselor G. Lloyd Rediger, who contends that 10 percent of
clergy are guilty of sexual malfeasance, and another 15 percent are
approaching the line of misconduct.”


“Two seminal studies in 1984 reported 12 and 12.7 percent of ministers
had engaged in sexual intercourse with members, and 37 and 39 percent
had acknowledged sexually inappropriate behavior. More recent surveys
by religious journals and research institutes support these figures.
The disturbing aspect of all research is that the rate of incidence
for clergy exceeds the client-professional rate for both physicians
and psychologists.”


“Protestants are not immune. One denominational study reported “clergy
were sexually exploiting their parishioners at twice the rate of
secular therapists.”


“The Journal of Pastoral Care, revealed 14.1% engaged in inappropriate
sexual behavior” and 70.4% had knowledge of other ministers who have
had sexual contact with a congregant.”
Christian Ethics Today


According to a national study done by the Graduate Theological Union
in California:

“..Among all denominations, 25% of clergy have had some kind of sexual
contact with a parishioner and 10% have had an affair; or a 1988 poll
by Christianity Today that found that nearly 13% of clergy admit to
having had sexual intercourse with parishioners and 76% know of other
ministers who have.”

Villagelife Inc.


William A. Donohue reviews Pedophiles and Priests by Philip Jenkins

“.. The most cited survey of sexual problems among the Protestant
clergy shows that 10 percent have been involved in sexual misconduct
and "about two or three percent" are "pedophiles." With regard to the
"pedophile" problem, the figure for the Catholic clergy, drawn from
the most authoritative studies, ranges between 0.2% to 1.7%.”

Catholic League: Catalyst 1996


The article “Sexual Misconduct by Clergy is Found Among All Faiths” by
Bob von Sternberg published April 23, 2002:

“Surveys (1993) by the Seattle-based Center for the Prevention of
Sexual and Domestic Violence suggested that as many as 15 percent of
clergy members of all faiths had engaged in some kind of sexual


“The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ECLA), with more than 5
million members nationwide, has since its founding in 1987 encountered
between three to five cases of sexual misconduct a year, almost all
involving adults, said spokesman John Brooks. That number hasn't
grown, and the number of cases involving children or adolescents has
averaged fewer than one a year, he said.”

Star Tribune


The Office of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
estimates that there are about 50 clergy sexual misconduct cases every

“Although cases in the PCUSA tend to involve adult women and male
pastors, there are sometimes cases reported that involve children and
other men.


Clergy misconduct is especially insidious because ministers are often
granted immediate trust in a way other professionals are not. When
special attention from a minister turns sexual, women are often
unprepared to stop it. This may be because the woman emotionally needs
him, or because he has the authority to ruin her career if she
challenges him, such as in the case of a student or associate pastor.”

Advocate Web


“Statistics given at the 4th International Conference on Professional
Sexual Misconduct (October, 1998) are that one out of three victims of
clergy are minors. My guess is that the more conservative the
denomination, the higher the percentage of minors and the higher the
degree of outright physical violence will be evidenced.”

Advocate Web


Jason Berry won the 1986 Catholic Press Association Award for his
coverage of clerical sex abuse and states:

- “Over 400 Catholic priests in North America were caught molesting
children between 1984 and 1992.
- The typical molester abuses scores to hundreds of children. 
- The Church has paid out over $400 million in settlements, and the
total is expected to reach $1 billion before they are done.
- The Church tried to cover it all up.”

Healthy Place: Religion Stats


“The Wisconsin Psychological Association's survey found offenders
distributed among the following professions:

Psychiatrists 34%
Psychologists 19%
Social Workers 13%,
Clergy 11%
Physicians 6%
Marriage Counselors 4%
and Others 14%
The Center for Domestic Violence found that:
- 12.6% of clergy said they had sex with church members
- 47% of clergy women were harassed by clergy colleagues. 

The Presbyterian Church stated that:
- 10-23% of clergy have "inappropriate sexual behavior or contact"
with clergy and employees.
The United Methodist research (1990) showed:
- 38.6% of Ministers had sexual contact with church members
- 77% of church workers experienced some type of sexual harassment

The United Church of Christ found that:
- 48% of the women in the work place have been sexually harassed by
male clergy.
The Southern Baptists claim:
- 14.1% of their clergy have sexually abused members.
In the Roman Catholic Church there are over 800 priests that have been
removed from ministry as a result of allegations against them.

We also know of 1,400 insurance claims on the books and that the
Church has paid out over $1 billion in liability with an estimated
$500 million pending.

 One noted expert claims that there are over 5,000 priests with some
type of allegation against them.”

The Linkup: Statistics


All faiths question handling of abuse by Michael Paulson – March 2002

 “The Archdiocese of Boston says at least 80 priests have been accused
of child sexual abuse over the last 50 years, and scholars say as many
as 2,000 priests have been accused nationwide.

By contrast, Protestant and non-Christian denominations have had so
few reported cases that their leaders can generally count them on one

A 1999 study of clergy misconduct, in which academics with the
Hartford Institute for Religion Research spoke with 76 ministers who
had, over the last 40 years, served 532 different congregations in 14
different denominations, turned up no instances of sexual abuse of
children in the Protestant congregations studied.”

The Boston Globe: Spotlight


“The Catholic clergy in the USA, as of today, on June 14, 2002, CBS
News Correspondent Bob McNamara reports:
- At least 300 lawsuits alleging clergy sex abuse have been filed in
16 states;
- Nearly 250 priests have resigned or been suspended; 
- Four bishops have resigned; 
- One priest was murdered by an alleged victim; 
- At least two priests committed suicide after being accused of

Clergy Abuse Scandals J. Domínguez, M.D.


Study says abuse rate by priests 2-6 percent    
By Bill Zlatos
Saturday, March 30, 2002

“Between 2 percent and 6 percent of Roman Catholic priests have
sexually abused minors, according to three researchers interviewed by
the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Based on the best data available, they
say, that's a rate comparable to sexual abuse by clergy in other
religions and that of the general population. “

“Plante estimates the actual rate of sexual abuse of minors by priests
at 5 percent.”

“Philip Jenkins, a professor of history and religious studies at Penn
State University, estimates that 2 percent of all priests have
sexually abused minors. He's the author of the book, "Pedophiles and

“Plante and Sipe estimate pedophilia among priests at 2 percent;
Jenkins, at 0.3 percent.”

The Tribune-Review


Search Criteria:
misconduct of spiritual leaders
"spiritual leaders" misconduct statistics
"spiritual leaders" misconduct statistics
misappropriation by  clergy statistics
misappropriation by  clergy statistics statistics
statistics on abuse in the church
clergy misconduct research OR report OR study OR studies OR statistics

Thank you for your question and this information helps you in your
research. If there is anything that I've written that needs
clarification, please ask before you rate this answer.

Best Regards,

Request for Answer Clarification by qpet-ga on 23 Mar 2003 21:52 PST
Hi bobbie7, 
A lot of sources, thank you! If possible I would like to have a little
more info on spiritual leaders other than christian clergy. You have
one source mentioning Buddhist and Hindu clergy, any other sources.
How about cults and abuse, any stats? One source compared clergy with
other professions great if you could dig up one more source on
Thanks for your effort,

Clarification of Answer by bobbie7-ga on 24 Mar 2003 00:32 PST
Hello Qpet and thank you for your clarification request.

All faith groups deal with abuse by Kathleen A. Shaw
February 17, 2002

“Mr. Jenkins said sociological studies show that sexual abuse of
children occurs in all religious traditions at the same rate.”

“We have seen the same thing among Protestants, among Jewish rabbis
and even Jehovah's Witnesses and Hare Krishnas, he said.”

Telegram & Gazette Staff

The percentage of Roman Catholic priests who abuse children and youths
is much greater than for other Christian and non-Christian religious
leaders (gurus, imams, ministers, pastors, priests, priestesses,
rabbis, etc.).”

“This may or may not be true. No reliable data exists. Even as media
articles in the first few months of 2002 highlighted abuse by priests
within the Catholic Church, a former Episcopal priest was convicted of
molesting a 14-year-old boy, a Baptist pastor from South Carolina was
starting a 60 year prison center for molesting 23 children, another
Baptist pastor was dismissed from his church in upstate New York over
allegations of abuse, a pastor in DeKalb, GA, was found guilty of 25
charges of molestation of a male teen-aged church member, and an
Orthodox rabbi was about to go on trial for groping two teenage
Source: religious Tolerance Org.

Clergy of all faiths are guilty of sexual misconduct with children and
adults but very little research has been done in that area.

“Beyond the few studies mentioned, the field is sorely lacking in
research that would precisely measure the extent of the abuse or
compare the number of abusers across denominations or religions. For
this reason, many researchers and professionals in the field try to
steer clear of citing statistics.”

“Gary Schoener, a psychologist and executive director of the Walk-In
Center in Minneapolis, says that illegal acts, rule violations and
shameful actions are not easily studied. They are by their very nature
hidden. One could do a population survey, but these are extremely
expensive, he says. No researchers or agencies are clamoring to do
such a study.”

“A survey described in the Journal of Social Issues reported that, of
its sample, almost 20 percent of children abused by religious
authorities considered suicide.”

Source: Reporter Interactive

“Spiritual abuse frequently occurs in conjunction with other forms of
abuse — or one could say that other forms of abuse, be they physical,
psychological, emotional, sexual or financial, when perpetrated within
a spiritual community or society, will have a spiritual component. The
abuse is being backed up by authority and power derived from a
spiritual institution or teaching”
Iskon Communications Journal


Ritual Abuse is also called: Cult Related Abuse, Satanic Ritual Abuse
(SRA), Ritualized Abuse, Occult Ritual Abuse (ORA), Sadistic Ritual
Abuse (SRA).
Religious Tolerance

There is an immense reservoir of belief that underground Satanic
"cults" are kidnapping, ritually abusing and killing children. A poll
in Utah revealed that over 90% of adults believe that Satanic Ritual
Abuse is happening in their state.
Religious Tolerance

“Sexual abuse in which ritual elements are alleged is typically
perpetrated by two or more people acting in concert. Whereas most
surveys indicate that males are responsible for more than 95 percent
of sexual abuse perpetrated against individual children, females
comprise 40 percent to 55 percent of alleged perpetrators acting in
concert (Finkelhor & Williams, 1988; Faller, 1994).”
“No reliable data are available on the prevalence of different beliefs
about "ritual abuse" among professionals. However, in a nationwide
study of thousands of interdisciplinary professionals, 11 percent of
mental health professionals reported having encountered one or more
allegations of child abuse that included ritual elements, as defined
by the researchers. A very small group of clinicians (1.4 percent),
each claiming to have treated scores of cases, accounted for most of
the reports of ritualistic child abuse (Bottoms, Shaver, & Goodman, in

Source: American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children

Ritual Abuse Statistics & Research     

“In a survey done in June 2000, at the National Victim Assistance
Academy in Fresno , CA , 82 questionnaires given out, 44 criminal
justice professionals responded to the questions, "Have you or a
co-worker ever worked with a client/victim that claimed to be a victim
of satanic ritual abuse?" Seventeen, 38% of respondents, had worked
with clients who claimed to be victims of satanic ritual abuse or had
co-workers who had worked with these clients. [Dawn Mattox, Butte
County , CA , District Attorney’s Office, 2000]”

In the University of Colorado's Ritual Abuse Research Project, most
survivors reported that their mother, father or other family member
was the primary perpetrator of their ritual abuse, however, other
perpetrators that were identified in the report are:  Physicians 30% 
-  Priests 18%  -  Teachers 15%.
Source: R.W. Nicholson & Associates

Child Abuse in Cults:

“We have located only one study that systematically examined the
question of children in cults. Gaines, Wilson, Redican, and Baffi
(1984) surveyed 70 ex-cult members in order to "determine the effects
of cult membership on the health status of current and past members,
including children" Among their findings relevant to the treatment of
children were the following:

27% of the respondents said children in their groups were not
immunized against common childhood diseases

23% said children did not get at least 8 hours of sleep a night 

60% said their groups permitted physical punishment of children 

13% said that children were sometimes physically disabled or hurt to
teach them a lesson

13% said that the punishment of children was sometimes
life-threatening or required a physician's care

61% said families were encouraged to live together and share
responsibilities 37% said that children were seen by a doctor when

Source: FactNet


Sexual Abuse by Therapists, Physicians, Attorneys, and Other
Professionals by Pamela K. Sutherland

“One self-reporting survey reported that "[a]s high as 13.7 percent of
male [therapists responding] and 3.1 percent of female respondents
have reported engaging in some form of erotic contact with at least
one patient." One survey of practicing therapists found that 70
percent were aware of at least one patient who had been sexually
involved with a previous therapist.


“A survey by the American Psychological Association found that 3.5% of
the male therapists and 2.3% of the women admitted having sex with a
client during the course of therapy. 14.2% of the men and 4.7% of the
women had sex with a former client.”


“A survey conducted by the Center for Prevention of Domestic and
Sexual Abuse found that 12.6% of clergy said they had sex with a
church member. 47% of clergywomen were sexually harassed by clergy
colleagues. The Presbyterian Church stated that 10%-23% of clergy have
“inappropriate sexual behavior or contact” with clergy and employees.”

“According to a survey reported in the Journal of the American Medical
Association (JAMA), 10% of psychiatrists admitted to having sexual
relations with their patients. In a report published by the Public
Citizen Health Research Group, 28% of psychiatrists were disciplined
for sex related offenses, a far higher rate than any other medical
specialty group.”

“According to a report published by the Public Citizen Health Research
Group, the number of all doctors disciplined for sexual misconduct
doubled from 1990 to 1994. Of total disciplinary actions taken against
physicians, 5.1% were for sexual abuse of patients or other sexual

“14.1% of ministers surveyed admitted to engagement in sexual behavior
that was judged to be inappropriate for a minister. A study of women
graduate students found that 9% reported coercive dating and sex with
faculty members. Of the 13% who engaged in consensual dating with
faculty members, 30% experienced “pressure to be sexual.”

Source: Illinois Coalition against Sexual Assault

Sex between Therapists and Clients:
“Research suggests that perpetrators account for about 4.4% of
therapists (7% of male therapists; 1.5% of female therapists)”

I sincerely hope that this additional information has helped you in
your research.

Best Regards,
qpet-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars
Hi bobbie7,
I really appriciate the extra information, very useful. I understand
that there is alimited amount of data out there. Under the
circumstances great job!

There are no comments at this time.

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