Vote: Publish pending minor changes
As Dr. Denney argues, it’s important that we gather empirical data and begin to understand child sexual abuse in religious settings that aren’t just Catholic. As such, it’s important that these data on 326 alleged incidents of abuse in Protestant churches are eventually published. The problematic aspect of this manuscript as written is in how Dr. Denney is defining a “groomer” and separating behavior types based on that definition. For example, in two of the three examples given for the “opportunist” type, it’s likely that grooming was used – the youth group volunteer at a youth group event and the music minister who victimized a member of the choir. Just because these CSA incidents occurred “on-site” doesn’t mean that grooming wasn’t used. Additionally, in all examples giving for the “serial offender” type, grooming and sexual desensitization were used by those who offended. My recommendation is to relabel the type categories to “on-site,” “off-site,” and maintain “serial.” Grooming is a tool used in the perpetration of assault, though admittedly not in all instances, thus the danger in isolating grooming behavior as a single offender type. Children, parents, and all Church community members should be educated on and alerted to common grooming practices so they can recognize it when it is happening no matter when or where.
Winters, Jeglic, & Kaylor (2020) and Winters et al. (various publications) have developed a Sexual Grooming Model of Child Sexual Abuse in an attempt to fine tune the sexual grooming literature. Their work might help add a bit of context to the various discussions of grooming throughout this manuscript. Additionally, there is other scholarship focused on grooming by Catholic priests that categorizes and describes many examples that similar to the examples seen in this manuscript. Those discussions may provide additional context as well, especially when considering on-site versus off-site offending.
Lastly, the number 326 is used in reference to the number of alleged incidents. However, in the findings section, it’s noted that there were 363 alleged contact offenses and 89 alleged non-contact offenses. How is Dr. Denney defining alleged incident versus alleged offense?