There are nuanced dangers and daggers that are unique to the pastoral predator that you simply do not see in other secular sexual abuse cases.
Let’s look at a few.
Abuse of children and adults by clerics can be threefold in nature
A and B can occur exclusive of each other but a side dish of C always goes with both. Likewise C can be served as a malfeasant meal on its own.
Like most other predators, clerics who abuse are in positions of power which enable them to do prey. Unlike most other predators, the clerical offender is associated with the Almighty as defined by whatever holy writ they represent.
This association with the Almighty places the cleric in a unique posture to prey upon the vulnerability of the pious. The pious pour out their hearts in faith that the fiduciary role of the cleric is incorruptible. This is a false assumption based upon naive trust.
Additionally, the pious prey may notice predatory behavior which would be untenable in the non cleric, but is explained away by the false sense of incorruptibility of the cloth. The thought that those who represent good may engage in evil is psychologically untenable and therefore discounted.
This thought pattern is engraved on the hearts of the pious from the birth of their faith, along with the well established theological tenet that we are to sacrifice ourselves into the obedience of the Almighty. Don’t think — trust and obey. Grooming behaviour goes on under the guise of good — impenetrable to inquiry.
Spiritual language is used in clerical malfeasance to manipulate the mind of the unwitting victim. No other form of predation takes on such an unearthly tone. Spiritual hunger of the victim becomes sexualized by the “sacred” predator. The Almighty becomes akin to an abuser.
In all other forms of abuse, by all other non-religious offenders — the victim can cry out to the Almighty as an external source of rescue. Abuse by the religious elite removes this hope of appeal to the Almighty.
Faith communities are institutions that engage in betrayal blindness. This is common in sexual abuse cases. The difference is — faith communities allege to publicly care about victims while the clerics privately create them. This creates serious and pathological cognitive dissonance.
Religious offenders have not only their own reputations to tend but also that of the “kingdom of god”. Pious victims will be further silenced lest the name of the Almighty is tarnished — whist abuse continues under the same perilous pretence.
Patriarchy in the context of faith gives the pious predator an extra layer of protection. Men are lauded— women and children are silenced. Scripture is used to defend such actions as divinely inspired and part of a holy order. Unholy and untold horrors remain exactly that — untold.