Sympathy for ‘this poor guy’ Jerry Sandusky and other pedophiles? New York friar blames youngsters who ‘seduce’ priests, coaches
Father Benedict Groeschel: ‘Suppose you have a man having a nervous breakdown, and a youngster comes after him. A lot of the cases, the youngster... is the seducer.'
Source - NY Daily News
BY VICTORIA CAVALIERE / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
THURSDAY, AUGUST 30, 2012, 10:58 AM
Father Benedict Groeschel blamed some teens for “seducing” unsuspecting priests. He also referred to convicted Penn State pedophile Jerry Sandusky as a “poor guy.”
A prominent New York-based friar has sympathy for some pedophiles -- including defrocked priests and former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky -- saying they are sometimes "seduced" by their underage victims.
Father Benedict Groeschel’s jarring comments come amid ongoing fallout from child sex abuse scandals that have rocked Penn State and, over the past decade, the Catholic Church.
In some of these cases, children “looking for a father figure” are responsible for the relationship with someone in a position of power -- like a coach or clergy member, Groeschel told the National Catholic Register.
“Suppose you have a man having a nervous breakdown, and a youngster comes after him. A lot of the cases, the youngster - 14, 16, 18 - is the seducer," said Groeschel, a founder of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal.
Pressed on the point, Father Groeschel says "It's not so hard to see - a kid looking for a father and didn't have his own - and they won't be planning to get into heavy-duty sex, but almost romantic, embracing, kissing."
The Westchester-based friar -- who maintains a prominent position in the Catholic Church, doing outreach in the Bronx and Brooklyn and appearing on a weekly religious television show -- doesn't think an adult who has a sexual relationship with a child should be punished for a first offense.
"I'm inclined to think, on their first offense, they should not go to jail because their intention was not committing a crime."
He also has some sympathy for Jerry Sandusky, convicted in June of 45 counts of sexual abuse of boys.
"Here's this poor guy - Sandusky - it went on for years. Interesting: Why didn't anyone say anything?"
Witnesses and victims didn't necessarily see the abuse as a crime, he proposed.
"It was a moral failure, scandalous; but they didn't think of it in terms of legal things."
Groeschel's office in Larchmont, N.Y., did not immediately respond to the Daily News' request for clarification.
The Archdiocese of New York quickly moved to distance itself from the comments.
"Although he is not a priest of the Archdiocese of New York, what Father Groeschel said cannot be allowed to stand unchallenged," spokesman Joseph Zwilling said in a statement.
"The harm that was done by these remarks was compounded by the assertion that the victim of abuse is responsible for the abuse...The Archdiocese of New York completely disassociates itself from these comments. They do not reflect our beliefs or our practice," it said.
In recent years, high-ranking priests and those close to the Jerry Sandusky scandal have been slammed for not doing more to alert authorities to alleged incidents of child sex abuse.
In June, Monsignor William Lynn of Philadelphia became the first U.S. Catholic Church official convicted of a crime for mishandling abuse claims.
And one of Jerry Sandusky's accusers this week sued Penn State, accusing university officials of making deliberate decisions not to report Sandusky to authorities.
Father Benedict Groeschel’s interview has elicited anger in other parts of the Catholic press, who see the comments as part of a pattern of cover-up and excusal of clergy abusing their power.
"Attempting now to alter the truth of the matter and to place the blame on the victims will only re-open old wounds and paint the church anew as an institution incapable of dealing with its own sin,” wrote Tom Roberts in the National Catholic Reporter.
This is a little repetitive, the above article was updated with the below one while I was making the post.
Critics slam New York friar who says pedophile victims seduce priests and coaches
Source - NY Daily News
BY ANDREW VITELLI AND LARRY MCSHANE / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
THURSDAY, AUGUST 30, 2012, 10:58 AM
Critics blasted a nationally renowned Catholic priest Thursday for his outrageous claim that underage victims of pedophiles such as Jerry Sandusky and rogue priests are sometimes the seducers.
In an interview with the National Catholic Register, the Rev. Benedict Groeschel, former head of the Office of Spiritual Development for the Archdiocese of New York, appalled victims rights advocates when he offered sympathy for disgraced ex-Penn State coach Sandusky and suggested that first-time sexual predators deserved no jail time.
“It’s disgusting,” said David Clohessy, director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.
“It’s wrong to demonize children who were raped, and it’s even worse to turn it around and turn the victims into the villains,” said Clohessy. “This is not only backward and wrong, but hurtful and counterproductive.”
Groeschel, a Franciscan friar and longtime Catholic radio and television host, made his comments during a seemingly routine sitdown with the religious publication timed to the 25th anniversary of Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, the religious order he founded.
For some reason, Groeschel launched into his disturbing remarks about child sex abuse.
The priest suggested that kids “looking for a father figure” make overtures to adults such as clergymen or coaches.
“People have this picture in their minds of . . . a psychopath,” Groeschel said, referring to pedophiles. “But that’s not the case.
“Suppose you have a man having a nervous breakdown, and a youngster comes after him,” he continued. “A lot of the cases, the youngster — 14, 16, 18 — is the seducer.”.
He went on to express his sympathy for “this poor guy Sandusky” — the former Penn State defense coordinator convicted in June of abusing 10 boys over many years.
“Interesting: Why didn’t anybody say anything?” Groeschel asked.
And he asserted that first-time pedophiles should receive a pass on jail time because it was more a sin than a crime.
“It was a moral failure, scandalous,” he said. “But (pedophiles) didn’t think of it in terms of legal things.”
The article was pulled Thursday from the Register’s website amid an outpouring of ire against Groeschel — who had previously attacked the media for its coverage of the pedophile priest scandal.
Groeschel, who was in a serious car accident a few years ago and had recently suffered a fall, issued a written apology through his order.
“My mind and my way of expressing myself are not as clear as they used to be,” said the 79-year-old priest. “I deeply regret any harm I have caused to anyone.”
Joe Zwilling, spokesman for the New York Archdiocese, condemned Groeschel’s statements as “terribly wrong.”
“What Father Groeschel said cannot be allowed to stand unchallenged,” Zwilling said in a statement. “The sexual abuse of a minor is a crime, and whoever commits that crime deserves to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
Groeschel, known for his work with the poor, was also a popular author, television host and speaker during his long career in the priesthood.