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. In addition to pursuing a criminal case against their abusers, survivors may also be able to file a civil suit against the Church, which may be responsible for letting their abuse happen. 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.
Many Survivors May Take Part in a Reconciliation Program or File Clergy Sex Abuse Lawsuits
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.
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 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 sexual abuse.
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.
Hold Abusers Accountable: The Time Is Now
Evidence is mounting against the church as investigations continue and dioceses around the country release lists that 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 credibly accused clergy 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. Lists are often incomplete and lack specific details.
Advocates are also skeptical that the Church will comply with law enforcement investigations because high-profile religious leaders are being investigated, and the Church has a long history of protecting these individuals in the face of legal trouble.
Sexual Abusers in the Catholic Church
Priests are not the only people who abuse their positions of power to manipulate and take advantage of defenseless men, women, and children.
Other sexual abusers within the Church may include:
- Office staff
- Church workers and volunteers
Statutes of Limitations & Clergy Sexual Abuse Lawsuits
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.
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.
Compensation for Survivors of Sexual Abuse
For survivors of clergy sexual abuse, compensation may be available. Financial compensation may help cover costs associated with abuse and its lasting trauma, such as:
- Emotional counseling
- Mental and/or physical therapy
- Medical prescriptions
- Pain and suffering
- Inability to work
- Loss of work due to mental health conditions
Sokolove Law Stands with Survivors of Sexual Abuse
Major institutions, like the Roman Catholic Church, were charged with the responsibility to educate, look after, and care for minors. In fact, 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 $7.4 Billion in verdicts and settlements.
If you are a survivor of clergy sexual abuse, you may be entitled to compensation. 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 at no cost to you. We know it takes tremendous courage to come forward. We are here to listen.