• Ma. Leah Ann C. Espina Religious of the Good Shepherd, Philippines
Keywords: Clergy Sexual Abuse, Priests, Sexual Abuse, Sexual Misconduct of Priests


This qualitative research study deals with the experiences of priests who have committed sexual misconduct. Most studies on the reasons of clergy sexual abuse were based on archival data, specifically, statistical analyses of psychological test results, from treatment centres where priest-perpetrators were sent for rehabilitation. Due to the social stigma and fear of lawsuits, qualitative data are few and often come from accounts of the victim. Using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA), the research explored the question: What are the reasons that led priests to be involved in sexual misconduct? Four themes emerged: a) Experience of loneliness, b) Unresolved issues in the past, c) Failure to maintain boundaries and, d) Lack of balance in the priestly life. This research probed the world of the priests as they shared their own experiences so that others could enter and understand the circumstances that led them to engage in abuse. Results of this study will be helpful in developing prevention strategies and appropriate rehabilitation programs on the issue of clergy sexual abuse.

Author Biography

Ma. Leah Ann C. Espina, Religious of the Good Shepherd, Philippines

Ma. Leah Ann C. Espina, RGS holds a Masters Degree in Clinical Psychology from the University of San Carlos, Cebu City. She has been facilitator in initial and on-going formation as well as intensive therapy and renewal programs for seminarians, priests, male and female religious. She has worked as Counsellor at St John Vianney Theological Seminary, Cagayan de Oro City and Pope John XXIII Minor Seminary, Cebu City, and has been therapist/counsellor in various RGS centres for sexually abused and trafficked girls and women in Thailand and the Philippines. She is a member of the Ministry team of the Religious of the Good Shepherd and Women-Justice Peace and Integrity of Creation (WJPIC) link person. She is currently assigned the local leader of the RGS Community in Cebu, Philippines.


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How to Cite
Espina, M. L. A. C. (2020). CLERGY SEXUAL MISCONDUCT: THROUGH THE LENS OF THE LOST SHEPHERDS. Asian Horizons, 14(2), 493-506. Retrieved from