The evidence needed to support a clergy sexual abuse claim often centers on the survivor’s statement and account of the abuse they endured. Other evidence supports their story and forms a compelling case against the perpetrator and the church.
If you believe you may have a Maryland clergy sexual abuse lawyer based on your experience with a clergy member, you can speak to an attorney who represents clergy sexual abuse survivors in your area. Most provide free consultations to help you understand your rights and legal options.
What Evidence Is Commonly Used to Support a Clergy Sexual Abuse Case?
The survivor’s statement is often the most powerful evidence in a clergy sexual abuse case. All other evidence should support their account of what occurred and document the damages they endured.
No two cases are the same. There could be evidence available in your case that is not common in others. You could have some or all the following to support your allegations:
- Witness statements
- Relevant medical records
- Expert input
- DNA samples (if available)
- Letters, texts, or other recordings
In addition to witness statements that directly corroborate the survivor’s experience, other survivors could have similar stories based on the abuse they experienced. A list of credibly accused clergy is available, and you might find your abuser’s name on that list. You may still have a case if they are not yet on the list, but knowing others suffered abuse from the same clergy member could bolster your case.
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What Is Clergy Sexual Abuse?
Clergy sexual abuse can happen to anyone of any age. While we primarily think of children and teens as victims, adults can endure this abuse, too. Some people who come forward share accounts of the sexual abuse they endured from clergy members as adults.
This crime occurs when religious leaders use their position in the church and community to overpower and sexually harass or assault parishioners, students, or others. It includes a wide range of nonconsensual activity, from verbal abuse to inappropriate touching to rape.
When survivors pursue a civil case based on clergy sexual abuse, they can sue the perpetrator directly. However, the church or school where they worked is likely also liable. These institutions have a duty to protect people from the wrongdoing of their workers, especially when those people are minors.
How Common Is Clergy Sexual Abuse?
Unfortunately, clergy sexual abuse likely occurs more often than anyone considers. While many Catholics consider it a significant issue the church is facing today, it may be more widespread than they realize.
In April 2023, the Maryland Office of the Attorney General released a comprehensive report on a four-year investigation it conducted into the massive number of child sex abuse allegations against clergy members affiliated with the Archdiocese of Baltimore. The 450-plus page report details the allegations against 156 named clergy members.
The Attorney General’s Office interviewed more than 300 childhood victims of clergy sexual abuse and determined there were at least 300 more affected. It reports that this number is likely much higher.
Lawmakers responded by passing The Child Victims Act of 2023, and many additional victims have come forward to make clergy abuse claims. Our Baltimore clergy abuse lawyers are assessing cases and taking on clients who are ready to hold the Archdiocese of Baltimore accountable.
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What Are My Rights as a Survivor of Childhood Clergy Sexual Abuse?
Maryland lawmakers granted childhood survivors of clergy sexual abuse additional rights to hold liable parties accountable with the passage of The Child Victims Act of 2023, which took effect in October 2023. The new law:
- Makes it easier to hold institutions, organizations, and agencies legally responsible for the actions of their workers and other associates
- Eliminates the state’s statute of limitations for childhood survivors of sexual abuse to sue
- Applies the new laws retroactively so survivors can sue even if they previously ran out of time to do so
In addition, the new law raises the limits on how much a survivor can sue for to recover in a childhood sexual abuse case. Beginning October 1, 2023, the new limits include:
- There is no cap on economic damages, such as medical care costs, when the defendant is a private entity.
- There is a $1.5 million cap on non-economic damages, such as emotional distress, from private entities.
- There is an increased cap of $890,000 per case when the defendant is a government agency, such as a school system.
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What Should I Do If I Believe I Have a Clergy Sexual Abuse Case?
If you believe your experience with a clergy member could support a legal case against them or the church, you should speak with a personal injury attorney who handles these cases in your area. You could hold the at-fault parties accountable in a civil action, recover compensation, and help protect others from similar experiences.
Clergy sexual abuse survivors may be able to recover compensation for their related past and present expenses and losses, such as:
- Medical bills for physical and mental health care
- Income losses and reduced ability to earn
- Pain, suffering, and emotional distress
Your attorney will know how to build a clergy sexual abuse claim and the evidence you will need to do so. They can help you tell your story effectively and powerfully during a legal proceeding and use supporting evidence to convince a jury that you deserve compensation for what you experienced.
Discuss Your Clergy Sexual Abuse Claim With Our Team for Free
Jenner Law’s clergy sexual abuse attorneys are accepting Maryland cases now. This includes sexual abuse allegations against the Archdiocese of Baltimore.
We can develop a compelling case on your behalf. Let us review your situation during a free, confidential consultation today. Contact us to get started with your free case review.