Deschambault clergy sexual abuse bill receives unanimous committee support
On Wednesday, legislation sponsored by Sen. Susan Deschambault, D-Biddeford, to criminalize clergy sexual abuse, received unanimous support from the Legislature’s Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety.
LD 913, “An Act To Protect the Public from Clergy Sexual Abuse,” would make it unlawful for clergy members to use their positions of power in their community to coerce or pressure others into engaging in sexual activity.
“I am sponsoring this bill on behalf of a constituent of mine, who brought this issue to my attention,” said Sen. Deschambault, who serves as chair of the committee. “I am happy to support such an important matter, and I’m glad this bill has received such strong support from the committee.”
This bill acknowledges that clergy members often are in positions of trust and authority over another person, which creates an inherent power imbalance in the relationship. LD 913 would criminalize sexual conduct of any sort between a clergy member and another person if the clergy member uses his or her position of authority and trust to engage in a sexual act. An exception is made for clergy members and their spouses or domestic partners.
LD 913 faces further votes in the Maine House and Senate.