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Ongoing Research: Clergy-Perpetrated Abuse in the Orthodox Church 

Unpublished: New data acquisition to study clergy-perpetrated sexual abuse in the Orthodox Church. 


We employed ChatGPT to aid us in generating key search terms in order to facilitate finding online media news stories concerning clergy sexual abuse in the Orthodox Church. Each published news article was read to extract key data to generate the summary plots below. 


Our preliminary search resulted in a total of 71 cases in the media between 2002 – present and involving 354 victims of clergy sexual abuse. However, these numbers are greatly underestimated since our data analysis is limited to only media stories found online in a simple search. Most victims do not report clergy sexual abuse let alone take legal action to result in a media story. 


Outside of the United States, results showed that the majority of clergy abuse cases were within the Russian Orthodox Church. In the United States, these data demonstrated that the majority of clergy abuse cases were within Greek Orthodox Church of America (see data in pie charts stratified by jurisdiction/community). 

When we split the data based on biological sex, it was revealed that there were more reported cases of clergy abusing females compared to males. There are two possibilities for this: (1) little girls and women are more likely to speak up about the abuse compared to boys or males or (2) females might actually be the majority getting sexually abused by clergy across the various Orthodox churches (see plot #3 below). To study this phenomenon further, we split the data by adult vs. child and learned that in the case of males there were very little clergy abuse reports involving grown man. By contrast the picture is almost flipped in the female case with most reports involving adult women victims (see plot #4 below). This gendered pattern of most victims of child clergy sexual abuse being little boys and most victims of adult clergy sexual abuse being adult women has been reported in other Christian denominations. Congruent with this result, the work of Pamela Copper-White (WCC 2013) demonstrated that the majority (90 - 95%) of those who are abused by clerics across various jurisdictions are adult women not children. 

The graphs below summarize these results. 

(These data to be used only for educational purposes attributing credit to Prosopon Healing) 

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