Clergy sexual abuse cases abound against the Catholic Church and other religious institutions around the world. This is not solely a Catholic issue. Sexual abuse by clergy is happening in the Protestant and Catholic churches and schools, Islamic religious schools, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints churches and schools, the Buddhist community, and the Jewish community.
One would be hard-pressed to discover a religion in which no cleric or other authority figure has faced allegations of sexual abuse. If you suffered abuse, a Baltimore clergy sexual abuse lawyer from our firm can help you seek justice and compensation that can get you the treatment you need.
Sexual Abuse by Various Religious Leaders
The Associated Press (AP), along with various other credible news sources, have investigated and confirmed clergy sexual abuse in various religious institutions and settings, including:
- The Catholic Church
- Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (The Mormon Church)
- Islamic schools
- The Buddhist community
- Jewish schools
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Who Is Liable When a Religious Leader Sexually Abuses Someone?
When a religious leader or another member of the clergy sexually abuses someone, they are responsible for their actions. However, the employer of the abuser, the religious institution, may also be responsible. A survivor of sexual abuse by a religious leader or other clergymember may pursue compensation directly from the abuser and/or through the employer’s insurance company if the religious institution’s insurance covers such injuries.
The institution’s responsibility increases if there is a history among its clergy of sexual abuse, or if the institution was aware of past abuse performed by the individual.
If you or a loved one suffered clergy sexual abuse, a lawyer can help you fight for justice.
Statute of Limitations for Clergy Sexual Abuse Claims
How much time you have to file a lawsuit depends on the state you live in. In some states, like Maryland, there is no statute of limitations for childhood survivors of clergy sexual abuse. A clergy abuse lawyer can help you determine how long you have to take legal action.
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What Losses Are Covered in a Clergy Sexual Abuse Claim?
There is no definitive answer to what compensation may cover in a sexual abuse claim. Each case is different, as are the losses experienced by the survivor. In general, you might recover compensation for the following:
- Healthcare costs for the treatment of physical and mental injuries
- Loss of quality and enjoyment of life
- Anxiety, depression, trauma, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Loss of income or future earnings, depending on your ability to work
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How do Survivors Prove Clergy Sexual Abuse?
Working with an attorney to prove sexual abuse may be traumatic for a survivor. However, our team will do everything in our power to make you as comfortable as possible when discussing the abuse you endured.
As can be seen from the number of cases around the country and the settlements and verdicts paid out by religious institutions, proving the abuse happened is certainly possible. Our attorney will look for supporting evidence in multiple areas:
- An exhaustive review of the alleged abuser’s personal, work, and criminal history
- A detailed history of the religious institution’s hiring practices, backgrounds of current and previous clergy associated with the institution, and complaints or claims made against the institution or its employees, including how the institution handled such claims
- A thoroughly recorded statement from the survivor and a search for documentation indicating abuse, such as diaries from the time of the abuse, police reports, or medical reports
- Statements from medical and mental health experts
- Statements from friends and witnesses who were around at the time of the abuse
- A search for other survivors, collecting their statements
The Many Roadblocks to Bringing Transparency to Clergy Sexual Abuse
People of faith believe their churches or religious institutions are safe spaces. They trust the authority figures within their church and automatically assign them good intentions. When an adult sexually abuses a child in any setting, the child typically follows the adult’s lead. The child may initially think the abuse is normal because the abuser is someone they and their parents trust or the abuser convinces them that what they are doing is normal.
The abuser may have been grooming the child for months before the physical abuse started. The abuser may have created a special world for the two of them, provided toys or treats, or even threatened the child to keep the abuse secret.
The child may not know how to explain what is happening, may feel a sense of shame or unease and be afraid of the consequences, or may feel as if he or she caused the abuse. For a hundred different reasons, the survivor may not be able to share what has happened until he or she is an adult. The institution behind the abuser may try to hide and deny the abuse because of a belief that protecting the institution is more important than protecting an individual.
We want to hold abusers accountable and help bring transparency to all religious institutions.
Support for Adult Survivors of Clergy Sexual Abuse
If you are an adult survivor of clergy sexual abuse and you want to take that first step in finding support, there are several organizations around the country providing assistance. Many regional and national groups can be found on the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ Child Welfare Information Gateway website.
Jenner Law Clergy Sexual Abuse Attorneys
Our law firm has extensive experience in fighting for the rights of adult survivors of sexual abuse. We approach each case with sensitive and compassionate service and invite you to contact us for a free case consultation. We want to hear what you have to say and to support you in your legal journey.
You are not alone. The clergy abuse attorneys with Jenner Law are here to help you seek justice.