SNAP applauds California bill to prohibit the sexual abuse of adults by clergy

SNAP applauds California bill to prohibit the sexual abuse of adults by clergy

For Immediate Release: January 8, 2024

California Senate Bill (SB) 894, introduced by Senator Dave Min on January 3rd, would criminalize the sexual abuse of adults by religious clergy. If passed, this legislation would bring California in line with 13 other states and the District of Columbia, which have similar laws in place. SB 894 would hold clergy to the same standards expected of those who work in other helping professions, like psychology, social work and medicine.

SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, supports Senator Min's efforts to make California's religious communities safer for adults. Clergy abuse of adults not only affects those in the three major Christian groups in the United States, Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox, but in every other religious community as well.

Melanie Sakoda, SNAP Survivor Support Director, shares that in the years that she's been working with victims, two of those abused as adults, one male and one female, have taken their own lives to end their pain. "There can be no true consent when a religious leader sexualizes a relationship with someone under their pastoral care."

Dorothy Small, a survivor of a sexual assault by a Catholic priest as an adult, as well as a SNAP leader in the Sacramento area, says,  "It's imperative to recognize that the prevalence of clergy sexual abuse extends beyond children, impacting adults significantly more than widely perceived." 

Lucy Huh, a Ph.D. candidate researching abuse in religious settings, and the survivor-advocate who brought the issue to Senator Min, adds, "Women remain the forgotten majority of persons to survive clergy-perpetrated sexual abuse.” 

Another survivor and advocate who experienced clergy-perpetrated sexual abuse in Southern California, Katherine Archer, points out that these are not affairs, but are egregious violations that cause life-long wounds. Katherine's abuser was an Orthodox priest.

SNAP thanks Senator Min for his important efforts. The organization hopes that the California legislature will pass this bill in the current legislative session. Adults, like children, deserve to be protected in their faith communities.

CONTACT: Dorothy Small, SNAP Sacramento ([email protected], 530-908-3676), Nancy Fratianni, SNAP Abused as an Adult ([email protected], 518-407-7487) Melanie Sakoda, SNAP Survivor Support Director ([email protected], 925-708-6175), Mike McDonnell, SNAP Executive Director ([email protected], 267-261-0578), Shaun Dougherty, SNAP Board of Directors President ([email protected], 814- 341-8386)

(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 35+ years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is


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