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Understanding and Dealing With Those Who Sexually Molest Minors by Msgr Stephen J. Rossetti PhD DMin.

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Presentation on theme: "Understanding and Dealing With Those Who Sexually Molest Minors by Msgr Stephen J. Rossetti PhD DMin."— Presentation transcript:

1 Understanding and Dealing With Those Who Sexually Molest Minors by Msgr Stephen J. Rossetti PhD DMin

2 I must also express my conviction that, in order to recover from this grievous wound, the Church in Ireland must first acknowledge before the Lord and before others the serious sins committed against defenceless children. Such an acknowledgement, accompanied by sincere sorrow for the damage caused to these victims and their families, must lead to a concerted effort to ensure the protection of children from similar crimes in the future…. Only decisive action carried out with complete honesty and transparency will restore the respect and good will of the Irish people towards the Church to which we have consecrated our lives. PASTORAL LETTER OF THE HOLY FATHER, POPE BENEDICT XVI TO THE CATHOLICS OF IRELAND March 19, 2010

3 “One who conceals disease cannot hope to find a cure.”



6 Priest Offenders: characteristics

7 Intervening with Alleged Perpetrators Don’t do the process alone Gather detailed and specific information Review legal/reporting guidelines Consult with clinical professional re: treatment options Prepare, rehearse & implement approach with accused Give real options, e.g., treatment or dismissal Suicide assessment & precautions if necessary Supervision/monitoring of individual

8 Denial – Lying Spectrum Denial – Lying Spectrum

9 When assessing and treating alleged perpetrators of child sexual abuse, BE ALERT TO DENIAL…

10 Potential Suicidality of Accused Highest risk immediately after allegations surface Inquire directly: “Are you thinking of hurting yourself?” If necessary, referral to local hospital Interim outpatient care…residential after? On-going supervision is necessary

11 Assessing Suicidality: Risk Indicators Current, constant suicidal thoughts Not willing to contract for safety Has a suicide plan Suicide plan is lethal Has a history of suicide attempts Feels helpless, hopeless, impulsive Sees nothing to live for Believes own death would be better for others

12 Number of Victims Number of Abusers Frequencies 5001 1002 501 401 351 303 253 202 161 151 141 132 121 111 108 91 72 65 56 49 3 216 113 How many victims does a priest-perpetrator of child sexual abuse typically have? (Data are from Saint Luke Institute with Sample of 91 priests.)

13 Most victims are male- 81%, 19% female Most victims are post-pubescent or nearly so: –(50.9% 11-14 years old &27.3% were 15-17 yrs old) Priest child molesters have a high incidence of neuropsychological impairment (45% at SLI). Priests, like most abusers, “groom” their victims first; the victims are well known to the perpetrators. Modal number of victims: 4 –Only 14% reported one victim –47% reported having 5 victims or more –One out of the 91 in the sample had 500 victims Some Data About Priests Who Molest Minors in The USA

14 Conclusion: If one victim surfaces, there are probably more… maybe many more.

15 Are all child molesters the same? Pedophilia Ephebophilia Sexually compulsive Neuropsychologically Impaired Narcissistic or Sociopathic Emotionally immature “Psychosocially Delayed Homosexuals” 1/3-2/3 abusing priests were themselves abused abused

16 A Common Profile of Some Child Molesters No peer relationships Emotionally isolated Tenuous masculine identity Discomfort with sexuality Lack of empathy Mismanagement of emotions Lack of insight/denial Unassertive Psychosexually immature Abuses alcohol “King of the Kids” “Pied Piper”

17 Are priests more likely to molest? John Jay study in USA: over past 50 years, 4% of priests had allegations of child abuse Groups using this issue to raise their own agendas….. It’s not a priest problem, it’s a human problem.

18 Who or What is to Blame? *Celibacy? *Repressive Church Teaching on Sexuality? *All Male Priesthood? *Poor Screening & Seminary Formation? *Laxity of the 1960s, 70s, 80s? *Homosexuals?

19 Is This A Problem of Homosexuality? Sample of 158 priests treated at Saint Luke Institute *If molested pre-pubescent children 54% heterosexual (all orientations are self-identified) 32% homosexual 14% bisexual *If molested post-pubescent children 35% heterosexual 46% homosexual 19% bisexual McGlone G., Viglione D.J. Geary B. Presented at ATSA, Montreal Ontario October 2002

20 Homosexuality & Child Sexual Abuse Dr. Martin P. Kafka, Harvard Medical School: "We described it as a risk factor…. A risk factor is not a cause…The great predominance of homosexual males are in no way sexual abusers... There is, however, a subgroup at risk.” NCR April 18, 2003, John Allen

21 Common Reasons Why Some Adults Sexually Molest Minors Emotional Congruence with the Child Need to feel Powerful & Controlling Re-enactment of own Childhood Trauma to try to Undo the Hurt Inability to Establish Meaningful Relationships with other Adults Availability of Children Disinhibition of Societal Taboo against molesting Children, e.g. alcohol, brain deficits

22 Psychosexual versus Psychosocial Disorder Pedophilia is a psychosexual disorder 50 year old preferring 16 year olds as sexual partners is a psychosocial disorder It is VERY difficult to change someone’s sexual orientation It is more possible to help someone ‘grow up’ and relate to their peers

23 Common Cognitive Distortions of Child Sexual Abusers “The child was coming on to me.” “The child enjoyed the sexual encounter.” “Children are very sexually precocious.” “Children need a father figure; I was just nurturing the child.” “It wasn’t sex; it was education.” “It wasn’t sex; we were just wrestling.” “Touching isn’t sex.”

24 Fr. Mercieca Transcript (Excerpts: interview w/CBS’s Katie Couric 9/19/06) Fr. Mercieca: We used to go out together to the games, when I, when my time permitted, you know? And we used to go to the ballgames and to the wrestling matches together and we used to go eat out….. M: we used to go to the sauna bath, you know, there was a Finnish community there in Lakeworth and we used to go there to take a bath, you know. And maybe at the park, you know, you would jump in the lake, you know. And there was no one…. Couric: So you’re saying you went skinny-dipping together, you took saunas together….you massaged him when he was naked, and you were naked in the same room on overnight trips? M: …We used to do, like the athletes you know, he’ll stay with his towel on and go on the beach and I will massage his neck and his back. Like they do to athletes, you know?....

25 Fr. Mercieca Transcript (cont1) (Excerpts from interview w/ Katie Couric 9/19/06) Couric: According to this article, you claim that once you were in a drug induced stupor, there was an incident that happened that you could not or cannot clearly remember that might have gone too far…. Fr. Mercieca: I had taken some pills, had taken some alcohol and sort of…that was drugs, not that we used drugs… Couric: And what happened? M: I can’t remember. And I guess that’s what maybe Mark {Congressman Mark Foley} is thinking that was something bad…. Couric: Are you still claiming that these encounters were all perfectly innocent? M: Well I mean at the time we didn’t think they were malicious, you know? Couric: I’m not talking about malicious, were they inappropriate in your view? M: It was maybe more spontaneous….

26 Fr. Mercieca Transcript (cont2) (Excerpts from interview w/ Katie Couric 9/19/06) Couric: Can you understand why this would be very upsetting to Mark Foley? M: I can’t. Because for 40 years it didn’t bother him now how come it bothers him now?... M: I mean, now that I knew that he doesn’t like it, I wouldn’t do it, you know?

27 In Mercieca transcript we see: Inappropriate Attraction to Minor Escalating Boundary Violations Grooming-Seduction Minimization, Denial, Rationalization Disinhibition w/Alcohol and Drugs Lack of empathy Mismanagement of own emotions/sexuality Pathetic, ineffectual, childish quality

28 Priest Offenders: Treatment

29 Perhaps the most common error made by individuals new to the field of working with perpetrators of child sexual abuse is being “conned” by the denial and manipulation of the client.

30 Treatment Goals for Perpetrators Breakthrough denial & admit problem Honest and full disclosure of past behavior Take responsibility for behavior Develop victim empathy Develop positive peer relationships Develop alternative modes of self-expression, gratification, & impulse management Healing of past trauma and underlying mood Identify offense pattern and budding signs Develop and commit to Relapse Prevention Commit to life-long recovery and healthy living

31 Treatment Modalities Used w/Adult Sex Offenders The Safer Society, 1994, survey of 1,086 tx programs 1.Victim Empathy 94.5% 2.Anger/Aggression Management 92.0% 3.Cognitive Distortions 91.0% 4.Relapse Cycle 88.0% 5.Social Skills 88.0% 6.Communication 88.0% 7.Sex Education 84.5% 8.Personal Victimization/Trauma 84.5% 9.Relapse Prevention Plan 83.5% 10.Pre-Assault/Assault Cycle 83.0%

32 Treatment Modalities Used w/Offenders (cont) The Safer Society, 1994, survey of 1,086 tx programs 11.Relaxation techniques/stress management 82.5% 12.Assertiveness Training 81.5% 13.Conflict Resolution 79.0% 14.Thinking Errors 78.0% 15.Frustration Tolerance/Impulse Control 77.5% 16.Victim Apology 75.0% 17.Positive/Pro-social Sexuality 75.0% 18.Journal Keeping 73.5% 19.Values Clarification 69.0% 20.Sexually Transmitted Diseases 68.5% 21.Alcoholics Anonymous 64.0%

33 SLI’s Treatment Program for Perpetrators of CSA Plethysmographies and masturbatory treatments are not used In-depth initial assessment is key to know what it is we are treating CBT is important- used in conjunction with long term psychodynamic approaches Behavior logs- rigorous honesty in community 12 step groups used extensively Small group and large group and individual therapies Non verbal/action therapies, eg Art Therapy, Psychodrama

34 More Notes on the Treatment Program at SLI Victim empathy Low doses of testosterone reducing drugs (depo- provera) used if sexually driven Social skills training- peer relationships Relapse Prevention emphasized Strong, extensive spiritual program is integral Long term continuing care program essential Extensive continuing care contract followed

35 Cure vs. Successful Treatment

36 Predicting Relapse: A Meta-Analysis of Sexual Offender Recidivism Studies by Hanson and Bussiere, 1998 *12.7% recidivism for 9,603 child molesters (not priests), 61 studies, 4-5 year follow-up *Predictors of relapse: *deviant arousal pattern *sexual interest in boys *prior sexual offenses *failure to complete treatment “The present findings contradict the popular view that sexual offenders inevitably reoffend.”

37 Relapse Rates for SLI Clients Clients Treated 1985-2011 is 339 Total Relapsed 1-26 year follow-up: 21 Percentage: 6.2% Recidivism Rate Low Risk SLI Offenders 2% Recidivism Rate High Risk SLI Offenders 19%

38 Priests with High Risk for Relapse Factors based on statistical study: previous treatment failure male victims moderate or greater neuropsych impairment violence or other non-contact sex offenses (e.g. exhibitionism, voyeurism) Factors based on clinical experience, I would add: high numbers of victims did not “get it” during current treatment

39 What does all this mean? 1.The notion that child abusers will invariably relapse after treatment is false. 2.Priest offenders have slightly lower relapse rate than general population of offenders. 3.If “low risk” client did well in treatment, and “got it” (ie. took responsibility for the offense, stopped minimizing, rationalizing and blaming), and cooperates with a reasonable safety plan, he is unlikely to relapse. 4.This does not mean 0%. There is always some risk 4.This does not mean 0%. There is always some risk.

40 What does this mean? (cont.) If the priest client is a “high risk” based upon having a number of the previously noted factors: *These clients need to be very tightly supervised with no personal access to minors at all or complete and total dismissal from the priesthood. *These are a minority of offenders but they can be dangerous men.

41 Case Study Fr. W. was a 35 year old diocesan priest referred for treatment because of several allegations of sexually abusing teenage boys. Over the course of eight years, he had sexually abused more than six 13-15 year old boys. All the boys were either altar servers and ones he met in Church programs. He was known as someone gifted in his work with teenagers. He would choose a boy who appealed to him and invite him for pizza or a video or take him on an outing. In therapy, he talked about his need for the boys to admire him and to put him on a pedestal. He had no awareness of how his role as priest exerted a powerful influence over the boys and how his behavior harmed them.

42 Priest Offenders: After Treatment

43 Continuing Care Detailed aftercare contract Regular system of accountability Sharing of information with tx providers Note surfacing of budding signs Intervention before relapse “It works if you work it.”

44 Risk Management Model Goal is to avoid harm to the community Reduce cognitive distortions in client Map client’s offense pattern Identify budding signs of relapse List people, places, activities to avoid Supervision to restrict movement and access Similar to a probation model

45 Good Lives Model Goal is to help client live a better life and thereby reduce risk of relapse Assumes offenders share same basic human needs and aspirations as others In offenders, problem lies in means to secure human goods Some human goods include identity, belonging, relationships, self-esteem, etc.

46 Nine Primary Human Goods *life (healthy living and functioning) *knowledge *excellence in play and work *autonomy and self-directedness *inner peace (freedom from emot’l turmoil) *friendship and relationships *community *spirituality *happiness and creativity (Ward & Stewart, 2003, “The Treatment of Sex Offenders: Risk Management & Good Lives”, Professional Psychology, APA)

47 Good Lives Model + Risk Management Model Adding approach goals to avoidance goals Instill in offenders the competence to gain primary human goods in an acceptable manner Combine capability/strength enhancement with risk management The two models are complementary, not mutual exclusive Management of risk factors plus motivating clients to seek primary human goods in a new, healthier way.

48 Case Study Fr. W. is a 55-year-old priest. He was accused of molesting three thirteen-year-old boys when he was in his 30’s. He is an isolated man with few friends. He says he has not offended since then. He admits to looking at pornography on his computer. He is temporarily confined to the priest retirement home until the Diocese decides what to do. He has been found chatting with the young males in their 20’s who are painting the building. He spends his day sitting in his room, often playing computer games.

49 Can priests/religious be returned to ministry after treatment for sexually molesting minors?

50 What is the safest course of action for children? What is the safest course for the Church? The safest course of action for children: - incarceration of offenders - treatment - supervision - no unsupervised contact with minors

51 Limbo is back!

52 Safety Plans for Known Offenders Not punitive; risk reduction instead Plans must be individualized Safety Plans are formal, written As risk escalates, control escalates A Lay Review Board should review it Time-limited with periodic review Consequences in writing for failure Delineate responsibilities--who? Monica Applewhite,PhD, Praesidium, Inc.

53 The Safety Plan Individualized Safety Plans allow an Arch/Diocese or Religious Community the opportunity to articulate and demonstrate diligence in managing the risk of members who have sexually abused minors, or have committed boundary violations, or who are in need of supervision due behavioral challenges/difficulties/pathology. © Saint Luke Institute, Inc.53

54 The Safety Plan They formalize and supplement wellness plans created by individuals involved in a therapeutic process by increasing the consistency of risk reduction via a clear outline of hierarchy, responsibilities, availability, and consequences for non compliance. © Saint Luke Institute, Inc.54

55 The Safety Plan In addition they offer clear parameters and opportunities for persons to show progress or otherwise over time © Saint Luke Institute, Inc.55

56 © Saint Luke Institute, Inc.56 Components of a Safety Plan --------------------------------------------------  Name of individual  Diocese/Religious Community/ or Institution  Implementation date  Date of review  Amendment dates

57 © Saint Luke Institute, Inc.57 Components of a Safety Plan -------------------------------------------------  Personal history  Assignments  Summary of problem behaviors  Treatment history and outcomes  Current/Proposed living arrangement/work

58 © Saint Luke Institute, Inc.58 Components of a Safety Plan -------------------------------------------------  Risk management strengths  Risk management challenges  Risk reduction strategies  Person(s) responsible for supervision

59 © Saint Luke Institute, Inc.59 Components of a Safety Plan --------------------------------------------------  Response of the individual  Violations/Reporting  Consequences of non-compliance  Review Board approval  Appropriate signatures

60 What do we know about women who abuse and/or exploit?

61 Some Red Flags for Women: Women with low self-esteem Women who tend to isolate themselves Women who have difficulty relating with other adult women Women who have little time for intimacy, friendship, leisure, relaxation and prayer

62 Who are likely victims of sexual abuse or exploitation by women religious? Our experience to date: Adolescent girls Adolescent boys Young adult women in formation Adult women met in ministry settings

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