Initial findings in a study of the Catholic church’s 2002 sexual-abuse scandal don’t tie the problem to gay priests or seminaries for teenagers, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “We do not have data to support  those assertions,” said Karen Terry of John Jay College of Criminal Justice, lead researcher for the $1.8 million study commissioned by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which is meeting this week in Baltimore.
Some Catholic leaders have contended that because 80 percent of the abuse victims were male, the crisis must have been caused by gay priests acting out. Terry said she found that abusers were confused about their sexuality and had poor social skills, but had no clear pattern of homosexual behavior. She believes that they abused boys mainly because they had access to boys. “Even though there was sexual abuse of many boys, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the person had a homosexual identity,” she said. The study said the abuse rose dramatically in the 1960s and ’70s, and has been declining since 1985. She said this paralleled other bad behavior, such as drug abuse, in the wider society. Her findings were critical of the bishops for often ignoring victims’ needs. She credited the bishops with instituting seminary programs in the 1980s that she believes prevented later abuse.