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SEX CRIMES: Abrupt, shocking and increasingly common in churches

In New Jersey, a youth minister is accused of engaging in a lengthy sexual relationship with a teenage church member, resulting in her pregnancy.
More than 1,300 miles away, in Oklahoma, a campus minister is charged in a sting designed to catch predators who use the Internet to lure youths into sexual encounters.
In each case, the allegations made headlines and devastated church members who respected and trusted the ministers involved.
The reaction is understandable, said Linda Oxford, clinical director for Agape Child and Family Services in Memphis, Tenn. A minister who commits sexual crime ” has not just violated the trust of the victims. He has violated the trust of the entire congregation,” she said.
Oxford, a member of the White Station church, counsels victims and said she has worked with at least a half-dozen Churches of Christ coping with the aftershock of a sexual misconduct case. Often, the revelation is “quite abrupt, quite shocking,” she said.
It’s also increasingly common, said Richard Blankenship, director of the North Atlanta Center for Christian Counseling.
“Sexual addiction is a disease that thrives in isolation,” Blankenship said. Most ministers work alone and are vulnerable to internet pornography, which often serves as a gateway to sexual misconduct. “Anybody who says they’re not vulnerable to falling to sexual sin is probably Satan’s next target,” he said.

Filed under: National

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