March 17, 2005

Sight of boys with priests not necessarily suspicious, experts testify

Monterey County Herald

Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO - Two experts on child sexual abuse testified Wednesday in a civil church-abuse case that the sight of young boys sitting on a priest's lap would not necessarily have raised suspicions during the 1970s.

A lawyer for the San Francisco Archdiocese presented four witnesses, including a retired FBI investigator and a retired San Francisco police officer, to describe for jurors an era that one expert called "innocent," long before the abusive behavior of priests became a national scandal.

Their testimony was intended to bolster claims by the archdiocese that it could not have suspected that one of its priests was a child molester. It is being sued by a man, now 47, who claims abuse dating back to the early 1970s.

Former FBI agent Gregg McCrary said that in the 1950s and 1960s, families were primarily concerned about "stranger danger," from shadowy figures lurking near playgrounds. In the 1970s and 1980s, he said, there was a growing awareness of family members who abuse children.

Posted by kshaw at March 17, 2005 07:30 AM