(I don't know if this is the proper forum for this post, if not please place it where you think it is appropriate.)
For some time there has been a tendency to 'pile on' the church, be it Roman Catholic or our own Orthodox Church, in the matter of the clergy, episcopacy and sex offenders. Some of us have posted in defense of the Church - not in defense of the stupid actions of some administrators and the people they protect - by pointing out that these issues are not unique to the Church or the clergy. There is an article in this morning's USA Today entitled "GAO: Registered sex offenders finding jobs in schools."
It is worth reading as it supports the argument of those of us who have tried to put the role of the Church in perspective.The GAO (Government Accountability Office, the independent investigative arm of the United States Congress) issued a report which found, in part:
"Registered sex offenders are getting jobs in schools as teachers, administrators, volunteers and contractors, despite state laws that prohibit them from contact with children, a government watchdog report says.
And school officials in some states enable misconduct to continue by ignoring red flags during hiring or by covering up the firing of sexual offenders, according to the report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress.....
An Education Department study estimates that millions of kids in kindergarten through 12th grade are victims of sexual misconduct by a school employee at some point. The GAO report also notes most sexual abuse of children goes unreported. In one study it cites, 232 child molesters admitted to molesting a total of 17,000 victims, often without ever being caught.
How offenders slipped through the cracks:
• A teacher/coach who was forced to resign from an Ohio school because of inappropriate contact with girls was hired by a neighboring district, where he was eventually convicted for sexual battery against a sixth-grade girl. The superintendent at his first school had called him an "outstanding teacher" in a recommendation letter.
• Several Louisiana schools hired a registered sex offender, whose Texas teaching certificate had been revoked, without doing a criminal history check. A warrant is out for his arrest on charges of engaging in sexual conversations with a student at one school.
• An Arizona public school skipped the required criminal history check even though the applicant disclosed he had committed a dangerous crime against a child. He was later convicted for having sexual contact with a girl.
• In three cases, schools failed to ask about troubling application responses. For example, a California charter school hired an administrator who had left blank a question about previous felony convictions; he had been convicted of a felony sex offense against a minor." http://www.usatoday.com/news/education/2010-12-15-gao-sex-offenders-schools_N.htm
Again, I am certainly NOT suggesting that the actions of any Church acting in a similar manner are in any way defensible or understandable. What I am suggesting is that this horrible problem is endemic to our modern society and it is patently unfair to single out a church or religion time and time again thereby suggesting that faith - not the overall moral health of the society - is that causal link.
The Church should be an icon, or exemplar, of how to deal with this problem but she is hardly alone with the consequences of this issue. Lord, have mercy.