“Ask a Priest: What If I Was Falsely Accused?”

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Q: What advice does the Lord give to the falsely accused? I was falsely accused of sexual abuse, investigated by the police, and the charges were refused due to complete lack of evidence. However, the allegations have ravaged my personal life by keeping me from my kids, destroying trust, ruining friendships, and creating constant personal anxiety. How can I truly heal when the rumors and accusations have already caused seemingly irreparable harm? – D.B.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: I’m sorry to hear about the trauma you suffered from the false accusations.

While there is no quick remedy to how people might view you, it might help to remember that Jesus, too, endured more than a few unfair accusations.

He was accused of everything from opposing the Law, to being under the influence of Beelzebul, to being mentally unstable (“They set out to seize him, for they said, ‘He is out of his mind’” — Mark 3:21).

It would be good to seek professional counseling. You will need help to face and adjust to what is going to be an enduring challenge, since society today tends to attach a stigma to simply being accused.

As for the matter of your children: It might be good to seek out an attorney who could help you gain access to them, especially if laws in your area place any restrictions on someone who is accused falsely.

The cultural climate and the sensitivities about sexual abuse have prompted some people to assume the worst of anyone accused. This is an unfortunate sign of the times.

As for the ruined friendships and distrust: It’s hard to change people once they make up their minds about something.

The best you can do is live the Gospel as best you can. Over time, as word of your legal exoneration is more widely known, and people see your own personal example, they might change their views.

If not, then that is all the more reason to leave things in God’s hands. He knows the truth of the situation; he alone is your judge. It is he, not your erstwhile friends, who you encounter at your particular judgment.

It will be important not to give in to discouragement or anger. The injustice done to you until now might be small in comparison to the pain you can inflict on yourself if you hold on to resentment.

So, it would be good to make an act of the will by forgiving those who falsely accused you and those who still think you are guilty.

That act of forgiveness might not take away all your challenges, but it can bring you some sense of peace. And, like Christ, your patient bearing of your cross can bring great spiritual fruit for others. Count on my prayers.

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