The current statute of limitations on clergy child sexual abuse lawsuits in Maryland, Md. Cts. and Jud. Proc. § 5-117, requires survivors to file a lawsuit no more than 20 years after they reach the age of majority, or by their 38th birthday to file a civil claim against the perpetrator and institutions responsible for their abuse. The statute also places specific requirements on what an adult survivor over the age of 25 must show to prevail in a suit against an institution for childhood sexual abuse.
The current statute of limitations was enacted in 2017 and does not rehabilitate civil claims that expired prior to its enactment. That means, if a survivor’s statute of limitations expired prior to the 2017 law was passed, that person still does not have a viable claim under the current law, regardless of their age. Moreover, due to the length of time abuse was covered up within the Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore – a period of 80 years, according to the Maryland Attorney General – many survivors are now in their 60s and 70s, and as a result, those survivors are time-barred from filing a civil action under current law. Our clergy sexual abuse lawyer can help you determine whether you qualify to file a lawsuit and represent your best interests.
Table of Contents
- Maryland May Introduce a New Bill Extending the Current Clergy Child Sexual Abuse Statute of Limitations
- What Could the New Bill Mean to Survivors of Clergy Sexual Abuse in Maryland?
- How Does a Civil Lawsuit for Clergy Child Sexual Abuse Help Survivors?
- How Does a Lawyer Help in Child Sexual Abuse Cases?
- When You Are Ready, We Are Here To Help You File a Clergy Child Sexual Abuse Lawsuit
Maryland May Introduce a New Bill Extending the Current Clergy Child Sexual Abuse Statute of Limitations
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A new bill currently under consideration, as of February 2023, offers hope to the many hundreds of people who were sexually abused as children within the Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore that have no access to justice due to the statute of limitations. If approved by Maryland’s General Assembly this year, the proposed legislation will lift the statute of limitations, providing a two-year “look-back” window.
This will enable more survivors to finally seek justice, accountability and a sense of healing for the harm they suffered within their faith community.
What Could the New Bill Mean to Survivors of Clergy Sexual Abuse in Maryland?
A criminal investigation by the Maryland Attorney General’s Office into reports of sexual abuse within the Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore has revealed clergy members abused hundreds of boys and girls. Despite continued appeals for help and reports of abuse by survivors, the investigation alleges that the Archdiocese:
- Failed to report or conduct appropriate investigations into allegations of sexual abuse
- Did not remove abusive priests, teachers, and other archdiocese employees accused of abuse from the church
- Covered up decades of sexual abuse and physical torture perpetrated by clergy and other members of the archdiocese
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If passed by Maryland’s General Assembly in 2023, new legislation will allow all survivors of childhood sexual abuse within the Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore the right to file a civil action despite the current statute of limitations on clergy sexual abuse lawsuits. People previously barred from filing a lawsuit due to law that existed at the time of their childhood sexual abuse could be granted a two-year window to pursue accountability and financial damages for the harm they have suffered for so long.
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How Does a Civil Lawsuit for Clergy Child Sexual Abuse Help Survivors?
Survivors of childhood sexual abuse should feel they can come forward when they are ready and seek support and justice in their own way. The proposed legislation could be one way to enable people to do just that.
Some survivors of childhood sexual abuse did report the abuse to members of their faith community, in an effort to hold the abusers accountable. In many of those cases, the survivors did not pursue a civil claim and the faith community was not held accountable for their role in the abuse. The proposed legislation is one way to allow these survivors the opportunity to hold their faith community accountable for their failures through the civil justice system.
If passed, the new legislation will allow survivors of childhood sexual abuse to hold their abusers accountable for the long-term harm they have caused. The new law would allow survivors to file civil lawsuits against the individual(s) who committed the abuse and the religious institution that allowed it to happen or covered it up.
While no amount of money can make up for what happened, it can help survivors with their journey to healing. A sexual abuse lawsuit typically includes compensation for:
- Emotional anguish
- Physical injury, pain and suffering, and other bodily harm
- Medical expenses, such as medication or the cost of therapy
Taking civil action also helps put an end to the abuse and safeguards children within the faith community in the future.
How Does a Lawyer Help in Child Sexual Abuse Cases?
We understand that it takes great courage to come forward and take action against those who harmed you. We also know the legal process can be emotionally challenging. A child sexual abuse attorney will be able to guide and support you through difficult times, recognizing that your well-being comes first, always.
Finding the right attorney for such a personal and important case is vital. When researching potential law firms to represent you, it can be beneficial to look for a law firm with the following:
- Significant prior experience in representing survivors of sexual abuse
- Positive client testimonials and a proven track record of success
- Honesty and openness about their costs and fees
We offer a free and confidential consultation, so you can ask us questions about our experience and discuss your case. This way, you decide if our law firm is a good fit for you.
When You Are Ready, We Are Here To Help You File a Clergy Child Sexual Abuse Lawsuit
The attorneys at Jenner Law are committed to helping survivors of the abuse that occurred within the Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore. With over three decades of experience working with survivors of sexual abuse and litigating cases against powerful institutions, we are here to listen to you and ensure your voice is heard.
If a priest, teacher, or another employee of a religious institution abused you or a loved one, you are not alone. You have support, and we are here to help you seek justice. Contact us to discuss your situation in a free and confidential consultation. We can explain more about your legal options and how we can support you today.