Is it the Alleged Victim’s Fault?

It is fairly standard procedure when a clergy-member is accused to sex abuse for people to blame or accuse the alleged victim. The alleged victim is either accused of lying and making up the whole thing to destroy God’s servant, or s/he is accused to seducing the clergy member and then lying about it.

Unfortunately this practice isn’t reserved for clergy sex abuse. In fact, it is a standard byproduct of denial. And, for all that, denial is a normal response to information that seems impossible. Where this becomes dangerous is when denial persists into unreasonable refusal to accept truth or to deflect responsibility from the one(s) responsible.

Sociological Images: Seeing Is Believing has a great article about how common and widespread this response is. Did you know it is the victim’s fault if her husband beats her (oh, yes – even the church will tell you that), a wife’s fault if her husband kills her children, the economy’s fault if domestic violence rates rise, girls are to blame for internet predators, and women cause sexual harrassment and male lust. This linked article has proof of this widespread problem – check it out.

The heart of this issue is that in each of these types of situation people fail to connect the action with the correct cause. Any perpetrator is fully responsible for his/her own behavior. If this were not true, all of these actions would be universal – all men would have unbridled lust, everyone would sexually harrass those around them, husbands would always kill their children when their wife upsets them, there would be no domestic violence in financially secure families, etc. No victim ever forces the perpetrator to take advantage of them. This is patently ridiculous. Still, the myth persists, adding to the pain of victims everywhere.

Chester Mulligan Update: Sentencing Scheduled for Tomorrow

Update: 4/23/2009

Chester Mulligan Sentenced

What Does Chester Mulligan’s Sentence Mean?


I have just received confirmation that Chester Mulligan will be in court tomorrow, Apr. 22, at 9 a.m. for sentencing, after pleading guilty to the charges of sexual abuse against him. At this point, the information has not be published but has been confirmed.

I will post more tomorrow as I have more information. Once Mulligan has been sentenced, and I have official confirmation, I will have a significantly more detailed post.

Siblings Sue Seventh Day Adventist Church Over Child Sex Abuse

A brother and sister are suing a Salem, OR, church and the Western Oregon Conference Association of Seventh-day Adventists, claiming that a teenaged baby-sitter used by the church in the 1990s had a prior abuse claim against him when he sexually abuse them. They claim the church knew, or should have known, about the prior claim and should have protected them from deliberate contact with a possible sexual predator.

Pastor James R. Harris Charged with Child Sex Abuse

The Rev. James R. Harris of Palm Beach County, FL, was arrested April 15, and charged with unlawful sexual activity with a minor, lewd or lascivious battery, child abuse, showing obscene material to a minor and promoting sexual performance by a child. According to the linked article, police believe he was attempting to flee to avoid arrest when he was apprehended.