catholic church scandal
August 15, 2018

Townhall: When Churches Become Scenes of Sexual Abuse

Haley Halverson, Vice President of Advocacy and Outreach, at NCOSE wrote an op-ed for about sexual abuse in churches. Below are excerpts of the op-ed, along with curated resources.

This week a grand jury reported on documents from six Catholic Church dioceses in Pennsylvania that revealed 300 “predator priests” have been accused of sexually abusing over 1,000 children.

The grand jury report states: “We believe that the real number – of children whose records were lost, or who were afraid ever to come forward – is in the thousands. Most of the victims were boys; but there were girls too. Some were teens; many were prepubescent… But all of them were brushed aside, in every part of the state, by church leaders who preferred to protect the abusers and their institution above all.”

This report has sent shock waves through the world, akin to the 2002 Boston Globe report on a priest accused of molesting more than 80 boys who was shielded by the Catholic Church.

The grand jury rightly stated: “There have been other reports about child sex abuse within the Catholic Church. But never on this scale.”

The Catholic Church is not alone. Many churches and religious institutions have been accused of perpetuating sexual abuse, to various degrees.

In Evangelical Christian church circles, amidst the #MeToo movement, high-profile leaders have been accused of sexual assault. Leaders like Paige Patterson, the president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, was forced to retire after it was reported that he told a rape victim to forgive her attacker instead of calling the police….

In the Mormon church, there have also been scandals, such as the recent case of Joseph L. Bishop, a retired president of the Provo Missionary Training Center, who admitted to molesting at least one female missionary. News reports state that the victim reported the incident to her local bishop, but that the local bishop ignored it because he “wasn’t going to risk sullying the reputation of someone based on that kind of a report.” …

There have been accusations of sexual abuse amongst Orthodox Jewish Rabbisinternational Buddhist leadersMuslim pilgrimages, and more….


Tragically, sexual abuse is in every sector: including religion. The #CatholicChurch is not alone. Wherever there are people (especially with factors of authority and institutional self-preservation) sexual abuse is a problem.… Click To Tweet

No matter where abuse occurs, it is always wrong, and should be reported. There are several specific resources listed below. You can also visit our Resource Center for more.

National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE

National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE

National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-252-2873, 1-800-25ABUSE

RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network)

GRACE: Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment

  • Empowering and training Christian communities to recognize, prevent, and respond to child abuse

Keeping Children Safe

  • Keeping Children Safe sets rigorous International Child Safeguarding Standards to help organizations protect children from exploitation and abuse.

Talk About Abuse to Liberate Kids –

  • TAALK has many resources and a private forum with one section that is specifically for parents of children who have been sexually abused


Visit our Resource Center for more.

Haley McNamara (Halverson)

Vice President and Director of the International Centre on Sexual Exploitation

Haley McNamara (formerly Halverson) is the Director of the International Centre on Sexual Exploitation in the UK, and a Vice President at the U.S. based National Center on Sexual Exploitation. She leads international efforts and joint campaigns to improve policies and education among global governing bodies, citizenry, and corporations regarding the full web of sexual exploitation issues. Her advocacy work has contributed to policy improvements in social media, online advertising, retail, and hotel industries. She has advocated at the United Nations, led international coalition campaigns, presented to Danish, Croatian, Colombian and Rwandan government officials, and more

She is a former member of the Washington DC Mayor’s Advisory Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect. This Committee advises DC Mayor Muriel Bowser on the multi-faceted continuum of the District of Columbia’s child welfare services, including prevention, early intervention, treatment, and sources of permanency.

Haley regularly speaks and writes on topics including child sexual abuse, sex trafficking, prostitution, sexual objectification, the exploitation of males, and more. She has presented before officials at the United Nations, as well as at several national symposia before influencers from the Department of Justice, Department of Health and Human Services, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Croatian government officials. She has provided training to Arlington County Child & Family Services on the social media grooming, recruitment, and advertising for sex trafficking. She has a Master of Arts in Government from Johns Hopkins University where she received honors for her thesis regarding the online commercial sexual exploitation marketplace.

Previously, Haley served for two years as Director of Communications for the National Center on Sexual Exploitation where she oversaw strategic messaging development, press outreach, email marketing, and social media marketing.

Prior to working at NCOSE, Haley wrote for a cultural media outlet. Haley graduated from Hillsdale College (summa cum laude) with a double major, and conducted a senior thesis on the abolitionist argument regarding prostitution. During her studies, she studied abroad at Oxford University and established a background in policy research through several internships in the DC area.

Haley has appeared on, or been quoted in, several outlets including the New York Times, NBC’s The Today Show, BBC News, New York Post, USA Today, Chicago Tribune, Fox News, San Francisco Chronicle, the Washington Post, Yahoo News, Voice of America, Dr. Drew Midday Live, The DeMaio Report, the New York Daily News, the Washington Examiner, USA Radio Network, the Washington Times, CBC News, The Rod Arquette Show, The Detroit News, Lifezette, The Christian Post, Lifeline with Neil Boron, EWTN News Nightly, KCBS San Francisco Radio, LifeSiteNews, The Drew Mariano Show on Relevant Radio, News Talk KGVO, and American Family News.

She has written op-eds for the Washington Post, the Huffington Post,, Washington Examiner,, Darling Magazine, the Daytona-Beach News Journal, and has been published in the Journal of Internet Law and the journal Dignity: A Journal on Sexual Exploitation and ViolenceShe has also contributed to a digital middle school curriculum regarding the links between sex trafficking and pornography as well as the public health impacts of sex trafficking.

Further Reading