In the 1990s, after a Boston Globe investigation uncovered the horrific truth about the Catholic Church’s long and rampant history of sexual abuse, more and more survivors have come forward to share their own stories of sex abuse. Clergy sex abuse lawsuits will never change the past, but they do have the power to change the future, to hold guilty parties accountable, and, if successful, to award compensation to those who have suffered.
Get Help from Clergy Sex Abuse Lawyers
In August 2018, a Pennsylvania Grand Jury released a report detailing over 1,000 abuse allegations dating back 70 years. Their report, which rocked the Catholic Church, involved over 300 Pennsylvania priests who were all credibly linked to cases of clergy sex abuse malpractice.
Shortly after the release of Pennsylvania’s report, other state attorneys general started following in their footsteps, setting up statewide investigations into the Catholic dioceses of their own.
For clergy abuse survivors who have been forced to bear the burden of past or present sexual abuse, their physical and mental scars may last a lifetime. However, survivors may have options to receive compensation for their suffering and to hold their abuser(s) accountable.
It may seem impossible to disclose such vulnerable and sensitive information. But the process of receiving well-deserved compensation can be made easier with the help of a trusted clergy sex abuse attorney.
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Recent News About Clergy Sex Abuse Lawsuits
- June 2019: New Jersey opens a sex abuse compensation program, which, as of November 22, 2019, has received 202 claims and paid out $4.7 Million.
- August 2019: New York extends statutes of limitations for filing sexual abuse lawsuits, giving those abused the ability to sue until they reach age 55.
- September 2019: A new program opens in California to compensate childhood sex abuse survivors; the program was opened by six Catholic dioceses.
- November 2019: Lawmakers in Pennsylvania pass legislation that will expand the statute of limitations for crimes relating to childhood sexual abuse.
- December 1, 2019: New Jersey expands its statute of limitations for clergy sex abuse cases, increasing the window for which both child and adult victims can sue.
Clergy Abuse Reconciliation and Compensation Program
In 2016, the Archdiocese of New York established the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program to compensate survivors of abuse, even decades old. Since then, more and more programs have been started in dioceses all over the country.
In September 2019, six Catholic dioceses in California initiated a new program to compensate survivors of childhood sexual abuse called the Independent Compensation Program (ICP). Those who have been abused in the following dioceses have until January 31, 2020, to submit a claim for compensation.
The admissible dioceses are:
- Archdiocese of Los Angeles
- Diocese of Fresno
- Diocese of Orange
- Diocese of Sacramento
- Diocese of San Bernardino
- Diocese of San Diego
If your abuse occurred in the dioceses listed above, you may be entitled to compensation through the ICP. However, this process may be difficult to navigate without legal representation. We urge survivors to seek the assistance of an attorney who will look out for their best interests, to help ensure the best possible outcome. Contact us now.
Stopping Abusers in Their Tracks
Evidence is mounting against the church as investigations continue and dioceses around the country release lists of credibly accused clergy.
The lists from various dioceses detail:
- Names of known sexual abusers
- Locations at which they worked
- When allegations of sexual abuse were made against them
While releasing the lists of abusers may seem like a step in the right direction, many survivors and advocacy groups believe the lists are nothing more than an empty gesture. In other words, the Church may want the public to believe they are releasing such lists to be proactive against the scourge of sexual abuse when in reality this does very little.
Advocates are also skeptical that the Church will comply with law enforcement investigations. High-profile religious leaders are being investigated, and the Church has a long history of protecting these individuals in the face of legal trouble.
Changing the Future With Clergy Sexual Abuse Lawsuits
Today, victims of clergy sex abuse have the opportunity to pursue a criminal case against their abusers or file a civil suit against the Church, which may be responsible for letting their abuse happen.
The voices and stories of survivors have power — they not only hold abusers and institutions accountable, but they can also set a precedent. If an abuser fears getting caught or having their secrets uncovered, they may stop committing acts of sexual abuse.
For many men, women, and children who have been sexually abused, they were likely not their predator’s only victim. With the help of clergy sex abuse law firms, survivors might stop a cycle of abuse and keep their abusers from finding new victims.
Statutes of Limitations
Due to certain state laws and statutes of limitations, some survivors were barred from taking action against the Church. Often these laws prevent childhood sexual abuse victims from filing lawsuits once they turned 30-years-old. In many states, the time limit is even shorter.
However, in the wake of public outcry, many states are reevaluating their laws around time limits survivors have to file cases against their abusers and the institutions that covered up the abuse.
At least 11 states have passed expanded statute of limitations bills to allow more time for survivors to come forward. In other states, similar legislation is now pending.
As of December 1, 2019, childhood sex abuse victims in New Jersey have until their 55th birthday (or up to seven years after they discover the abuse has caused them harm) to sue. Cases that were previously time-barred have now been revived with a two-year filing window.
We recognize that sharing your story is an incredibly difficult thing to do. While no lawsuit will rectify the wrongs that have been done, a survivor’s voice and story have the power to change the future.
Clergy Sex Abuse Compensation
For survivors, compensation may be available through clergy sex abuse settlements or clergy sex abuse case verdicts. Contacting a well-established, successful clergy sex abuse law firm is the best way to find out if you may be eligible for such compensation.
Financial compensation may help cover costs associated with abuse and its lasting trauma.
For example, compensation may help cover:
- Emotional counseling
- Mental and/or physical therapy
- Medical prescriptions
- Pain and suffering
- Inability to work
- Loss of work due to mental health conditions
The clergy sex abuse attorneys at Sokolove Law are currently helping survivors who may be eligible to access these funds. In accordance with program deadlines, which vary from diocese to diocese, it is important for survivors to take action right away.
Sokolove Law Provides Clergy Sex Abuse Legal Help
If you are a survivor of clergy sexual abuse, one of the most difficult — but important — things you can do is step forward.
Major institutions like the Roman Catholic Church were charged with the responsibility to educate, spiritually guide, and care for minors. Many times these institutions did the exact opposite: They chose to protect sexual predators instead.
Over 40 years ago, Sokolove Law was established upon one fundamental principle: to stand up for the voiceless and help provide them with a say in the American legal system. In the 4 decades that have passed since that promise was made, our firm has helped thousands of clients across the country recover over $7.8 Billion in verdicts and settlements.
If you are a survivor of clergy sexual abuse, you may be entitled to compensation through the help of a clergy sex abuse lawyer. When you speak with a member of our legal team, you can trust that we will be discreet with your information and work with only your best interests in mind.
Contact us today for a free case review. We know it takes tremendous courage to come forward — and we are here to listen.