Proposing a Behavioral Taxonomy of Priest Sexual Grooming


Sexual grooming is generally thought of as the way that would-be abusers build trust and camaraderie with their victims in order to lower the victims’ inhibitions and eventually take advantage of the situation. Minimal levels of empiricism have focused on the sexual grooming patterns of abusive Catholic priests in the United States. In order to help close this gap, we conducted a retrospective content analysis of publicly available documents of credibly accused priests from one diocese in Illinois. Findings suggest that accused priests from this diocese used any of eight grooming techniques in order to abuse their victims; one of these tactics is specific to priest offenders. Using that knowledge, we propose and discuss a behavioral taxonomy of priest sexual grooming as well as the direction that future research should take in assessing this potential taxonomy.

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Published: 2018-03-01
Pages:30 to 43
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How to Cite
Spraitz, J., Bowen, K. N. and Strange, L. (2018) “Proposing a Behavioral Taxonomy of Priest Sexual Grooming”, International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy, 7(1), pp. 30-43. doi: 10.5204/ijcjsd.v7i1.387.

Author Biography

Texas Christian University
 United States

Kendra N. Bowen, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of criminal justice at Texas Christian University. Her research interests include clergy sexual abuse, sex offender registration and notification laws, offender reentry, and decision-making in violent situations.