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Prevention of Sexual Misconduct and Exploitation. The Safe Church Program of the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island. Agenda. Opening Prayer Introductions Power and Ministry Sexual Harassment Sexual Exploitation Prevention and Intervention Wrap up. Welcome!.

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prevention of sexual misconduct and exploitation

Prevention of Sexual Misconductand Exploitation

The Safe Church Program

of the

Episcopal Diocese of Long Island

  • Opening Prayer
  • Introductions
  • Power and Ministry
  • Sexual Harassment
  • Sexual Exploitation
  • Prevention and Intervention
  • Wrap up

“A new commandment, but one we have had from the beginning, let us love one another. And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments.”

2 John 5-6

“Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?”

Book of Common Prayer

O God, our heavenly Father, you have blessed us and given us dominion over all the earth: increase our reverence before the mystery of life; and give us new insight into your purposes for the human race, and new wisdom and determination in making provision for its future in accordance with your will; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (BCP 828)

where is the sacred
Where is the sacred?
  • A 30 year-old female seminarian is kissed fully upon the lips by the 45 year-old married male priest she has been assigned to for CPE training . . .
  • A 28 year-old male associate is ridiculed for having to take time off to take his spouse to the doctor for fertility testing . . .
  • When they meet once a month to discuss the church’s needs, the senior warden has no compunction about sharing the latest gay-bash jokes he’s heard . . .
questions we ll seek to answer
Questions we’ll seek to answer
  • Who needs to be here?
  • Is this about sex or power?
  • What is sexual harassment?
  • What is sexual exploitation?
  • What can we do to prevent or minimize our exposure to misconduct?
why do i need to be here
Why do I need to be here?
  • Clergy, employees and lay ministers –

Understanding of issues and perspectives on sexual harassment, misconduct and boundaries.

  • Parish leadership–

An awareness of how we create the environment for both lay and ordained members that affects the incidence of sexual misconduct.

power and ministry what is adult consent
Power and ministry -What is adult consent?

Adult consent is full, mutual agreement achieved without coercion or manipulation.

A power imbalance or relationship of fiduciary responsibility makes consent problematic.

power and ministry what is power
Power and ministry -What is power?

Power begins when a position of authority and responsibility has been established and accepted.

power and ministry where does power come from
Power and ministry -Where does power come from?
  • Occupation, oversight responsibilities
  • Experience or expertise
  • Physical size or attractiveness
  • Gender, age and race
  • Wealth
  • Charisma

Power can be both negative (benefiting only the one holding it) or positive (a service to others)

power and ministry where does power in ministry arise
Institutional role

Educational level

Credibility of profession

Symbolic power


A confidant (secrets)

Spiritual authority

Culture and language skills

Community trust

Transference (larger than life)

Mythology of “having the answers”

Power and ministry -Where does power in ministry arise?


power and ministry what is caregiver power
Power and ministry -What is Caregiver Power?

Conferral of power onto a caregiver is

  • Often unconscious and unspoken
  • Derived from the helping relationship
  • An evolving process
  • An “implicit contract”
  • Related to the experience of the recipient of care, not the caregiver’s self-perception

Abuse and exploitation can happen when the power differential is not acknowledged, honored, and protected.

power and ministry predictable responses to the exercise of power
Power and ministry -Predictable responses to the exercise of power
  • Coercion – Anger
  • Reward – Probably not effective after reward stops
  • Expertise – Defined by subject and ability
  • Position – Submission without understanding
  • Reference (Mom says) – Resentment
  • Flattery – Seductive, may take skill to detect
  • Normative – True conversion, takes time, requires consent
power and ministry the power in you
Power and ministry -The power in you
  • Where do you exercise power in ministry?
  • What form does that power take?
  • How might a power imbalance in your situation be abused?
definitions what is sexual misconduct
Definitions -What is sexual misconduct?

Sexual Misconductis an umbrella term that includes sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, and sexual harassment. Sexual misconduct by those engaged in ministry is contrary to Christian morals, canon law, and in some cases civil law.

sexual harassment what is sexual harassment
Sexual Harassment -What is sexual harassment?

Sexual Harassmentis any unwelcome behavior of a sexual nature that makes the recipient feel uncomfortable or threatened.

Sexual harassment has traditionally been defined as within a work context, but this has expanded to include collegial, mentor, and ministerial relationships.

sexual harassment what is considered sexual harassment
Sexual Harassment -What is considered sexual harassment?
  • Verbal harassment:

Explicit or innuendo, sexual nicknames, sexual jokes, stories, rumors, comments about anatomy, clothing

  • Non-verbal harassment:

Staring, facial expressions (winks, throwing kisses, etc.), sexually suggestive visual materials, sexual gestures

  • Physical harassment:

Unwanted touching of any sort, blocking or restricting freedom of movement, giving unwanted personal gifts

sexual harassment what is considered a hostile work environment
Sexual Harassment -What is considered a hostile work environment?
  • Creating a working environment perceived to be intimidating or offensive through unwanted behavior of a sexual nature.
  • Verbal, non-verbal, or physical harassment can create a hostile work environment.
sexual harassment what is considered a quid pro quo
Sexual Harassment -What is considered a quid pro quo?
  • “Something for something”
  • Explicit or implicit offer of job favors in return for sex
  • The perpetrator is someone with supervisory authority
  • Can include bystander quid pro quo – damaging to another individual
sexual harassment misconceptions about sexual harassment
Sexual Harassment -Misconceptions about sexual harassment
  • Victims “ask for it” through behavior or dress
  • Only women are harassed
  • It’s a blue collar problem
  • Men and women agree on what constitutes sexual harassment
  • No complaints means no problems
  • Most charges are false
  • You can only harass members of the opposite sex
sexual harassment harassment is not defined by intentions
Sexual Harassment - Harassment is not defined by intentions

It is considered harassment regardless of the actor’s intention, and even if the receiver seems to be “going along” with the behavior.

Ask yourself:

  • Would you say/do the same if your spouse or significant partner was nearby?
  • Would you feel comfortable if your comments or behavior were reported in the church’s newspaper?
  • Would you be offended if the same behavior were directed at someone you care about?
sexual harassment extent of the problem
Sexual Harassment -Extent of the Problem

Experienced sexual harassment in church:

  • Clergywomen 77%
  • Laity 20%
  • Students 48%
  • Employees 37%
  • Female clergy by male clergy 44%

Source: Office of Research, General Council on Ministries, The United Methodist Church, 1990

sexual harassment what should a victim do
Sexual Harassment- What should a victim do?
  • Don’t blame yourself.
  • Act if you can. Say, “no,” and tell the harasser to stop. Silence may be seen by your harasser as encouragement.
  • Know your rights. Document your situation and speak to your clergy, or call the Bishop’s Office at (516) 248-4800, ext. 31

“By setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every person’s conscience in the sight of God.”

2 Corinthians 4:2

sexual exploitation what is sexual exploitation
Sexual Exploitation - What is sexual exploitation?

Developing or attempting to develop a sexual relationship between a cleric, employee, or volunteer and an individual he/she has a pastoral relationship whether or not there is apparent consent.

sexual exploitation who are lay pastoral caregivers
Sexual Exploitation - Who are lay pastoral caregivers?
  • Stephen Ministries (if your parish has this ministry)
  • Youth leaders, Sunday School teachers
  • Eucharistic Ministers and Pastoral Visitors (best for a team of at least 2)
  • Hospital Visitors
  • Pastoral Care Interns (i.e., seminarians or graduate students in CPE)
  • School Chaplains
  • Day School teachers & aides

As we are all members of a royal priesthood

(1Peter 2:9), we are all involved in ministry.

sexual exploitation what are the issues of exploitation
Sexual Exploitation - What are the issues of exploitation?
  • Pastoral relationships have inherent trust, idealization and decency
  • There is an imbalance of power
  • There is a breach of fiduciary duty to place the other’s interests above one’s own
  • Spiritual trauma
sexual exploitation preying on those who
Sexual Exploitation - Preying on those who . . .
  • May have a history of childhood sexual abuse (a learned tendency to eroticize relationships)
  • May have other history of victimization
  • May be borderline personality disorder
  • May demand exception to usual boundaries
  • May insist on self-disclosure by minister
  • May demand physical contact (hugs)
  • May take other forms of undue familiarity

Neither consent nor

provocation is a defense

prevention and intervention establishing boundaries
Prevention and intervention - Establishing boundaries
  • Carefully assess the person you are caring for
    • How great a risk of being misinterpreted?
    • Work in public, with a partner
    • Document what happened and consult a supervisor
  • Avoid sexual humor, innuendo and flirting
  • Do not offer alcohol to underage people
  • Be prudent about self-disclosure. If you need to “unload”, speak to your supervisor or a professional
  • Use appropriate touch (i.e., mirror)
  • Romantic involvement while in a pastoral relationship (lay or ordained) is inappropriate
prevention and intervention what are personal warning signs
Prevention and intervention - What are personal warning signs?
  • Excessive self-disclosure of current personal needs (role reversal)
  • Excessive gift giving
  • Excessive or selective touch (remember mirroring)
  • Undue anticipation of visits
  • Non-standard meeting locations
  • Continued fantasies about person
  • Secrets kept from spouse or colleagues (remember the blush test)
prevention and intervention other personal warning signs
Prevention and intervention – Other personal warning signs
  • Symptoms of burnout: sleep disorder, general fatigue, depression
  • Increased family conflicts
  • Overworking to avoid going home
  • Not taking vacation days or involving spouse in family plans
  • Dreaming/fantasizing about colleagues or parishioners
  • Failure to maintain personal devotional life beyond sermon or lay ministry preparation
  • Substance abuse
  • Family history of abuse
prevention and intervention what can be done to minimize misconduct
Prevention and intervention - What can be done to minimize misconduct?
  • Know the ethical considerations
    • Be aware of the power dynamics
  • Participate in accountability
    • Create, develop and be a part of a network of supervisors and peers
    • Be open in discussions with supervisors
  • Establish priorities
    • Pay attention to yourself, the demands of home and ministry, and your personal devotional path
  • Recognize and obey warning signs
prevention and intervention what can the vestry do to minimize misconduct
Prevention and intervention - What can the Vestry do to minimize misconduct?
  • Create an atmosphere of compliance
    • All employed or engaged in at-risk areas are required to take this training session.
  • Create an environment supporting compliance
    • Whenever possible encourage teams for at-risk service situations. Provide an environment for visibility by other adults (glass in doors, policies about one-on-one meetings, etc.)
prevention and intervention reporting misconduct
Prevention and intervention - Reporting misconduct
  • Speak with your clergy,


  • Contact the Bishop’s Office at

(516) 248-4800, ext. 31

For more information you may also contact the Mercer School of Theology at

(516) 248-4800, ext. 40