Clergy Sexual Abuse has no color or specific religion. It is always shocking and always the same "old" story. A powerful man, who is anointed by God, helped so many, done so much, saved so many.................And YES he is a sexual predator. The Faith Community is shocked and don't want to believe the "signs" which are clear. Let's examine the allegations:
Bishop Long "did or did not" by expensive gifts for these teenagers/men
Bishop Long "did or did not" fly these teenagers/men around the world
Bishop Long "did or did not" stay in the same room with these teenagers/men when they traveled
Bishop Long "did or did not" provide houses and cars free to these teenagers/men
Bishop Long "did or did not" send pictures of himself in tight fitting clothes, taken by him, in a bathroom to these teenagers/men
Of the five items listed which ones would you be ok with him doing for or with your own children? None for my child please. I'm not sure if it is because I have worked in Child Welfare for 20 years or it's because I am a survivor of childhood Clergy sexual abuse, but I know there are always signs. I know that I am suspicious of any adult spending "alone" time with any child other than their own. I know to ask questions about this behavior when I see it. I know my help of kids does not include a desire to send them pictures of me or buy them expensive presents. I can't see God in that behavior. I see a possible sexual predator.
Now let's get something clear. It is not possible that NO ONE in the Church knew about this behavior. It is possible that many of the congregation believed what they wanted to believe instead of what they knew they saw. I agree that clergy should be respected. I agree that clergy can help us grow closer to Christ. I also agree that clergy are humans and sin like all men and women. For this reason, I supervise their interactions with children just like I would with any other adult. Children depend on adults to protect them. I will not be traveling with anyones children alone and no adult will be traveling with my child or any other child alone if it is not their child, without me asking questions. We must learn not to give clergy trust that we wouldn't give any other adult with children. Again, we all sin. No man or woman is God, so we all struggle with sin. This is true no matter how many thousands or millions of people believe in your message. Let's stop acting as if we don't know that or that it is only true if you are not clergy.
As I mention in my book, From Abused to Protector: “Claiming Your Life After Your Church Sexually Abuses You” A Story of Hope, Forgiveness and Triumph, there are ten things that all adults can do to prevent sexual abuse.
1. Parents need to be watchful of all children as if they were their own.
2. Parents should know the parents and other family members of their children’s friends before allowing them to play unsupervised or spend a night at the friend’s house.
3. All parents should be involved in the PTA at school.
4. We must demand that Child Welfare programs be fully funded so that case loads are manageable.
5. Our Child Welfare system should be preventive rather than reactive. We shouldn’t be working with a foster care system that doesn’t graduate children and bounces them around to strangers instead of family members.
6. Churches need to require background checks for all personnel.
7. There should be a strict curfew for all children.
8. We must demand that all Child Welfare professionals be competent – especially the leaders!
9. We have to make sure that those engaged in social work have their heart in the right place. Just having the right degrees is never enough. These are jobs that require passion and commitment. There is no room for complacency.
10. Realize that, regardless of how much money we might spend, ultimately it is not up to the government to fix this problem. Communities must live up to their own responsibilities right in their own neighborhoods, schools, churches and homes. Sexual and physical abusers are no match for dogged vigilance. They can and must be stopped!