The Rev. Benedict Groeschel, a Catholic priest who hosts a weekly television show in New York, said in an interview with the Catholic Register this week that child sex abusers should not be jailed for a first offense since teenage boys often seduce men.
“People have this picture in their minds of a person planning to — a psychopath,” Groeschel said in the interview. “But that’s not the case. 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.”
“Well, 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, perhaps sleeping, but not having intercourse or anything like that,” Groeschel said. “It’s an understandable thing, and you know where you find it, among other clergy or important people; you look at teachers, attorneys, judges, social workers.“
After several unfavorable responses, Jeanette R. De Melo, editor in chief of the Catholic Register, removed the story from the Register’s web site and replaced it with the following remark:
“Child sexual abuse is never excusable. The editors of the National Catholic Register apologize for publishing without clarification or challenge Father Benedict Groeschel’s comments that seem to suggest that the child is somehow responsible for abuse. Nothing could be further from the truth. Our publication of that comment was an editorial mistake, for which we sincerely apologize. Given Father Benedict’s stellar history over many years, we released his interview without our usual screening and oversight. We have removed the story. We have sought clarification from Father Benedict.”
Clarification? I don’t see how he could have been more clear. The 79-year-old Groeschel’s talk show is on the Eternal Word Television Network, which owns the National Catholic Register. No word yet on whether he still has that job.