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In a statement to the Associated Press, the Vatican described this as a "ludicrous publicity stunt and a misuse of international judicial processes." Lawyers and law professors emphasized that the case is likely to fall outside the court's jurisdiction.The American Psychiatric Association states that "children cannot consent to sexual activity with adults," and condemns any such action by an adult as "a criminal and immoral act which never can be considered normal or socially acceptable behavior." Child sex abuse has gained public attention in the past few decades and has become one of the most high-profile crimes.
The accusations began to receive isolated, sporadic publicity in the late 1980s.
There are no accurate figures available on the number of sexual abuse cases in different regions.
But, in 2002 The Boston Globe reported, "clearly the issue has been most prominent in the United States." According to a Pew Research Center study, in 2002 the media coverage was focused on the US, where a Boston Globe series initiated widespread coverage in the region. In September 2011, a submission was lodged with the International Criminal Court alleging that the Pope, Cardinal Angelo Sodano (Dean of the College of Cardinals), Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone (Cardinal Secretary of State), and Cardinal William Levada (then-current Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith) had committed a crime against humanity by failing to prevent or punish perpetrators of rape and sexual violence in a "systematic and widespread" concealment which included failure to co-operate with relevant law enforcement agencies.
Although nationwide inquiries have been conducted only in the United States and Ireland, as well as an Australian inquiry into institutional responses, cases of clerical sexual abuse of minors have been reported and prosecuted in New Zealand, Canada and other countries.
In 1994, allegations of sexual abuse of 47 young seminarians surfaced in Argentina.