Often, it is media attention that draws us to the plight of certain crime victims that in turn leads to changes in social policies that benefit those victims. For example, clergy abuse is a relatively new term used to describe the physical or sexual abuse of children by clergy in certain situations. In the past, these cases often went unreported to law enforcement, even when superiors and supervisors knew of the abuse. In addition to costly civil suits brought by victims of this abuse, after much media coverage, some clergy have been charged and successfully prosecuted in criminal court.
Rules of evidence have changed to accommodate the type of evidence required to prosecute these cases. Even so, many states still do not require mandatory reporting of this type of child abuse by clergy because of the long-held notion that clergy should enjoy complete confidentiality even if a supervisor becomes aware that a priest is sexually abusing a child.
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