Clergy sexual abuse occurs when someone with religious authority—such as a priest or nun—uses their authority to exploit children, teens, or adults. This often includes engaging in some form of sexual harassment or nonconsensual sexual activity.
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 handles these cases. Our attorneys provide free consultations for survivors in Maryland and those who endured abuse in the greater Baltimore area.
Understanding What Clergy Sexual Abuse Is
Many people look up to clergy members who serve as community leaders and authority figures at churches, schools, and other organizations. They have a lot of influence and power. Unfortunately, some of them use these things to abuse others.
Many believe only young children suffer sexual abuse at the hands of clergy members. However, teenagers and adults are also survivors of clergy sexual abuse. Still, many survivors coming forward today are adults who were abused by trusted church leadership during childhood.
While perpetrators of these crimes deserve to be held accountable, they are not the only liable party. The church, school, and other institutions that employ these clergy members also have a duty to protect parishioners and others from bad staff behavior. To this end, civil cases involving clergy abuse often focus on holding the church or another organization legally responsible.
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Clergy Sexual Abuse and the Archdiocese of Baltimore
Following a four-year investigation, the Maryland Office of the Attorney General released a 450-plus page report on clergy sexual abuse allegations within the Archdiocese of Baltimore. This investigation reviewed incidents from several decades and included findings from interviews with more than 300 survivors and other witnesses. In all, the report names 156 clergy members as abusers. The AG’s office believes there are likely many more who remain unnamed at this time.
You can review a list of credibly accused clergy from the Archdiocese of Baltimore to determine if there may be credible accusations against your abuser or other clergy members who you knew from attending church, school, or other church-sponsored functions in the Baltimore area. You could still have a case if your abuser is not yet on this list.
In response to this report and many additional survivors coming forward, our Baltimore clergy abuse lawyers are actively reviewing these cases. We can assess your legal options and discuss our services regardless of when your abuse occurred, your age at the time, or whether you reported it back then. New laws make it possible for many survivors to sue even when they were previously told it was too late.
What Should I Do If I Am a Survivor of Clergy Sexual Abuse?
Survivors of clergy sexual abuse can pursue justice by holding the perpetrator and/or the institution legally responsible through a civil case. They can file a lawsuit and demand compensation for the damages they endured, including:
- Past and present medical care costs, including mental health care
- Past and present income losses and diminished earning capacity
- Past and present pain and suffering, including emotional distress
The best way to learn more about your legal options is to speak to an attorney who handles these cases near you. Clergy sexual abuse cases rely on certain evidence to document what occurred and hold the liable parties responsible. This can be difficult or impossible to do without someone with legal knowledge on your side.
You should consider meeting with a clergy abuse lawyer as soon as possible. Some liable parties, including the Archdiocese of Baltimore, have filed for bankruptcy. This could affect your case and its timeline. However, it does not prevent survivors from seeking and recovering compensation through legal action against the archdiocese.
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What Are My Rights As an Adult Survivor of Childhood Sexual Abuse?
Maryland recently passed legislation that grants childhood survivors of sexual abuse additional rights and makes it easier for them to get justice. The Child Victims Act of 2023 went into effect on October 1, 2023.
This law provides more time to act and makes it easier for adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse to hold religious institutions and others accountable. Some of the most significant changes for clergy abuse survivors include the following:
It Makes It Easier to Hold Additional Parties Liable
Building a civil case against the church, school, or other institution that employed or sponsored the perpetrator is now easier.
It Eliminates the Statute of Limitations
There is no deadline for filing a lawsuit if you endured sexual abuse as a child in Maryland. The Child Victims Act of 2023 effectively eliminated the statute of limitations on civil claims.
It Permits Retroactive Lawsuits
The elimination of the deadline in these cases applies retroactively. This means survivors who endured abuse decades before can pursue a case today. There are a few exceptions to this rule, and they primarily apply to those who have already sued for abuse they experienced.
It Raises Limits on Recoverable Damages in Child Sexual Abuse Cases
There are new caps on financial payouts in these cases. This includes eliminating the cap on economic damages from private institutions and an increase to $1.5 million per case for emotional distress and other non-economic damages from private entities. The new cap on claims from government agencies is $890,000 per claim.
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Discuss Your Possible Clergy Sexual Abuse Case With Our Team for Free
At Jenner Law, our attorneys are reviewing and accepting Maryland clergy sexual abuse cases now. We can assess your options and discuss your next steps today.
Our free consultations are confidential, and no one will know you made the call unless you tell them. Our compassionate team members are here to answer your questions.
Contact us online or via telephone to learn more today.