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Why Organizations’ First Impulse Is to Cover Up

The Catholic Church is once again making news. There are the tragic findings of a Pennsylvania Grand Jury, which recently announced it had evidence of 300 priests molesting 1,000 children in their care. This was followed by accusations by a top Vatican diplomat who, among other things, alleged that the Pope and other top Vatican officials covered up accusations that American Cardinal Theodore McCarrick had sexually abused seminarians. 

The athletic world has similarly been shaken by revelations of Michigan doctor Larry Nassar abusing hundreds of gymnasts while supposedly providing medical treatment. Ohio State’s sports have suffered a variety of scandals including the recent three-game suspension of acclaimed football coach Urban Meyer for allowing his assistant coach to continue to work even after it came to light that the man abused his wife.

A familiar pattern for institutions

There are specific sex abuse charges against celebrities and other public figures, but these charges involving institutions are worse because it is not just one person behaving badly. Institutional misconduct is systemic with strategy conceived by leaders within these organizations. The flaw isn’t just the act of the abuse, but putting an organization’s interests above helping the victims and preventing further abuse.

The reasons for this are specific to each case, but it often comes down to two things:

  1. Reputation: The revelation of the misconduct is thought to irreparably damage the institution or an important figure who represents the institution.
  2. Money: The revelation of the misconduct is thought to lead to loss of money paid to multiple victims or the loss of financial support by donors, governments, or other organizations.

Why protect an institution or organization?

The thinking goes that institutions are bigger and therefore more important than an individual. In a community, there is a mindset of “the greater good.” Preserving that organization for the greater good is the priority. If there is a problem, the idea is to solve it or make it go away so the status quo is maintained.  

Institutions are economic engines often deemed too important to fail, or religious organizations whose appeal is based on the values they espouse. Either way, it is important that they still be held accountable.

It is up to the brave to take action, but they can and do get help from legal professionals and others. It is wise to contact a personal injury attorney if you feel that representatives of an institution, organization, or group is abusing you. You may be one person or one of many, but your rights still matter.   


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