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The Pennsylvania Grand Jury Investigation into the sexual abuse of children within the Roman Catholic Church identified 300 predator priests and over 1,000 abuse victims in that state alone. The investigation found evidence that when pedophile priests were accused, far too often the Diocese’ response was to re-assign them to other parishes where they continued to prey on child victims. Across the country, states are preparing their own investigations into abuse allegations and cover-ups and ensuring parishioners and the public are aware of what’s going on.
One thing is for certain, child sexual abuse crimes should not go unpunished, no matter when they occurred. If you were abused by a priest or other clergy in the Catholic Church, we want you to know that we are fighting for you and we won’t rest until sexually abusive clergy are held accountable for their crimes.
Priests Groomed Kids for Abuse
Investigations have shown that predatory priest groomed children with gifts, money, and friendship only to sexually exploit them. Priests forced male and female children and teens, to perform acts, pose for pictures, and submit to abuses that left them scared and emotionally scarred. Yet the church provided rhetoric instead of taking actions and stopping the abuse.
Since the Grand Jury released the Pennsylvania report in August 2018, hundreds more have called the Attorney General’s abuse hotline to report abuses and concerns. Many of these victims are seeking justice and to hold their abusers and those who enabled the abuse legally liable for their crimes.
Across the nation, victims and their families are demanding the church be investigated and abusive priests ferreted out, named, and held accountable for the crimes they committed. Even if your abuse occurred decades ago, you might be entitled to significant monetary compensation for the abuse you were forced to endure.
You have the power to hold the Church liable for failing to protect you from predators, including those who had been abusing children for decades while the Church looked the other way. We can help.
Were You Abandoned by the Church?
Child sex abuse allegations have been made against Catholic priests in the United States, Ireland, and Chile and other countries. And many of these victims says that instead of protecting the children involved in these allegations, the church chose instead to cover up the allegations, transfer the offending clergy to a different parish or diocese, and pay out billions to keep the abuses quiet.
Meanwhile, the church has continued to apologize for the abuses young parishioners have suffered, but the Grand Jury report shows that for decades the church was more interested in protecting its reputation than its children. The Vatican issued an apology to 1.2 billion Catholics and admitted it had abandoned the victims of abuse.
How Big is the Problem of Abuse in the Catholic Church?
Current child abuse estimates show that:
- Between 1950 and 2016 more than 6,721 priests were accused of abuse;
- At least 18,565 abuse victims in the U.S. have come forward or been identified;
- Between 1984 and 2009, more than 3,000 lawsuits were filed;
- Approximately two-thirds of the bishops in the U.S. have been accused of hiding abuse allegations and transferring priests;
- About 19 Catholic bishops have been accused of perpetrating sexual abuse.
Over the past 30 years, the Catholic Church has paid out over $3.8 billion to more than 8,600 clergy abuse survivors who filed lawsuits seeking justice leading to at least 19 Dioceses and religious orders filing for bankruptcy protection. These payouts were issued to survivors across the country including in:
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New York
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
Some of these payouts include:
- $1 million paid to eight Augustinian Province of Saint Thomas of Villanova sex abuse victims in Philadelphia;
- $3.7 million paid to six clergy abuse victims by the Diocese of Scranton;
- $9 million paid by the Seattle Archdiocese to settle eight clergy abuse cases;
- $20 million settlement paid by the Catholic Diocese of Great Falls-Billings, Montana to 86 clergy abuse victims;
- $60 million paid by the Archdiocese of New York over two years to clergy sex abuse victims;
- $77 million settlement paid by the Diocese of Wilmington to approximately 150 clergy abuse victims;
- $166 million paid by the Oregon Province of the Jesuits to over 500 clergy sex abuse victims;
- $210 million settlement paid by the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minnesota to hundreds of clergy abuse victims;
- $$$$ Archdiocese of Philadelphia pays an undisclosed amount to settle clergy abuse claims in what is said to be the largest payout thus far.
Can You Seek Justice for Clergy Abuse?
More than 1,000 clergy abuse victims were identified in Pennsylvania alone and many of these victims want changes to be made that prevent these types of abuses of happening to any more children. These victims want the church to admit these crimes were hidden, shoved under the rug, and ignored and make sure that those who committed the abuses and those who enabled the abusers are held accountable for their actions. But the steps to justice can be difficult to face on your own, and that’s where we come in. We can help you get the justice you need and deserve for the abuses you were forced to endure.
The first step in seeking justice is determining if you have a case. One of our deeply experienced clergy abuse attorneys can help you figure out if you qualify to seek justice through a civil lawsuit. Currently, the rules in Pennsylvania say that you have until your 30th birthday to file a claim. However, in light of the Grand Jury report, there has been a renewed effort to lift the time limits so that abuse victims will be eligible to get the justice they deserve.
The next step is to identify the liable parties and ensure that those who had a duty to protect you from abuse are held accountable for failing that duty. The law does not accept excuses when it comes to protecting children. Anyone who had a responsibility to protect the children of the church and failed that duty can be held liable for that failure.
Then, your attorney will file a civil lawsuit that explains the abusive incidents you had to endure and the damages that you suffered due to the abuse. These damages may include therapy and counseling costs you incurred due to the physical, mental, and emotional anguish you had to endure as well as other damages.
Finally, your attorney will negotiate on your behalf to reach a fair and equitable settlement for the maximum compensation available for the damages you suffered. Should these negotiations fail, your case will be ardently litigated in court before a judge and jury. However, most clergy abuse cases are settled before they reach litigation.
A Note on Criminal vs Civil Litigation
Some clergy abuse victims may want to press criminal charges against an abuser. In these cases, the District Attorney’s Office prosecutes the abuser for violating the law. But first, you must report the crime, so it can be investigated before the abuser is prosecuted. If the abuser is found guilty, they may be incarcerated, fined, or both.
In a civil case, the victim is seeking compensation for the damages they suffered due to the clergy abuse. You are not required to report the abuse to the authorities in a civil case, and instead of the DA prosecuting the case, your personal attorney will present your case to the court. A judge or jury will listen to the evidence and determine the amount of compensation you receive for the physical, emotional, and mental injuries you suffered and may continue to suffer.
We Can Help
Across the nation, parishioners, advocates, District Attorneys, and the public are paying close attention to the clergy abuse crisis and how the Church is responding. Thus far, the church has issued yet another apology, but that’s not enough. We have been fighting for the rights of clergy abuse survivors and their families for decades, and we will fight for you and ensure pedophile and predatory priests and the Diocese that hid them are held accountable for their actions and behaviors.
If you were abused by a priest or other clergy member, you may be able to hold them accountable by law. Likewise, if someone who has a duty to protect children knew or should have known about your abuse and failed to report it or take action to stop it, they may be held accountable for failing that duty.
You have the power to hold predatory priests and sexually abusive clergy accountable for the crimes that were committed against you, and we can help. Our clergy abuse attorneys aggressively defend your rights and ensure you get the maximum compensation available by law for the abuses you endured. Contact us today to learn more about victim’s rights, how we help, and whether you are entitled to seek the justice and compensation you need and deserve.