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If you are a victim of clergy or priest sexual abuse, then to protect your potential abuse lawsuit, make sure you consult with professional clergy abuse lawyers. Getting a free case evaluation with a lawyer lets you figure out your legal rights and options during this dark time. My Rights Law is a personal injury law firm focusing on assisting clergy abuse victims with getting financial compensation and justice from their abusers and the institutions responsible for these abuses. Our clergy abuse lawyers is prepared to help you today. So, if you have been subjected to clergy sex abuse, call (888) 702-8882 or contact us through our secure web form for a free consultation.

Clergy Sexual Assault Is A Global Problem

Sexual assault by members of the clergy is a global problem. These horrific cases involve betrayal by a member of the community who holds themselves out in a position of trust, yet who then preys on the vulnerability of children. For these reasons, many states have taken significant steps to ensure that all victims of priest and clergy sexual assault have an opportunity to be heard in a court of law.

Our clergy sexual assault lawyers have experience in the intricacies of these cases. We understand your need for privacy and justice. We also accept that no amount of monetary compensation can ever adequately atone for the abuse and betrayal you suffered at the hands of a trusted member of the clergy. We will take the time to understand you and what happened. We will meet with you without charge and answer all your questions. During our meeting, our lawyers will provide you with all your options should you choose to proceed.

This article will examine the current state of the law concerning clergy sexual assault. Specifically, it will address the following:

  • what constitutes sexual assault;
  • the impact of clergy sexual assaults on children;
  • the clergy sexual assault law;
  • the independent commission program;
  • damages to which victims are entitled; and
  • how to proceed if you have been the victim of clergy sexual assault

It will also address some frequently asked questions. If you have any additional questions, please do not hesitate to contact My Rights Law. We are waiting for your call, and there is no charge for your initial consultation.

What Is Sexual Assault?

In most states, the following would constitute sexual assault:

  • Unwanted sexual contact with genitalia
  • Exposing oneself or forcing another to expose themselves
  • Groping without consent
  • Fondling without consent
  • Touching, even over the clothes, in a suggestive manner
  • Any other touching when done for sexual gratification

The list above consists of some examples but not all types of sexual assault. It is also important to know that any act of sexual assault becomes a more serious, aggravated offense when the victim is a minor.

While the criminal code addresses these matters, the offender’s punishment is not enough to make the survivor whole. As a result, survivors of clergy sexual assault can seek monetary compensation for their injuries in civil court.

Any single act listed above would provide a basis for a survivor to file a sexual assault civil lawsuit against a member of the clergy and the church in which they worked. There does not need to be a criminal conviction to pursue a civil case. You can proceed regardless of whether your abuser was arrested, tried, or convicted. You may even proceed if your abuser was found not guilty at trial.

The criminal justice system and the civil law system have different standards and aims. The criminal justice system aims to provide a deterrent, punish, and protect society from dangerous criminals. The civil justice system addresses injuries sustained by wrongful conduct. By pursuing your case in civil court, you play an important part in bringing the truth of clergy assault and the abuser to the light of day.

Devastating Effects Of Clergy Childhood Sexual Assault

Survivors of childhood sexual abuse face immediate and chronic psychological and mental injuries. Immediately after the assault, survivors feel some combination of shock, betrayal, fear, and anxiety. As the initial shock wears off, chronic injuries begin to surface. These chronic injuries can first appear shortly following the assault or materialize later in life. What follows is a list of some of the most common psychological and physical injuries sustained by survivors of childhood clergy sexual assault:

  • Post-traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Sleep disorders
  • Eating disorders
  • Personality disorders
  • Depression
  • Substance abuse
  • Self-abuse
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Difficulty maintaining relationships
  • Difficulty achieving intimacy
  • Emotional regulation
  • Distress tolerance

This psychological damage can last decades and requires consistent treatment from mental health experts and medication.

Physical damages may include all the following:

  • Stunted development
  • Chronic pain syndrome
  • Digestive health issues
  • Anorexia
  • Obesity
  • Heart-related issues

As is the case with psychological damages, physical injuries can last for decades and require regular medical visits. Survivors of clergy sexual abuse can seek monetary compensation for all the impairments listed above and many others.

It must also be acknowledged that these crimes devastate the survivors and their families and communities. Since the assault is at the hands of a trusted member of the family’s church, the child victim bears an excessive burden. The child must speak up concerning one of the most immoral acts and accuse an individual that the family and community regard as a moral authority. When children inform a trusted family member, the family can risk being ostracized by charging such a revered member of the community. In this way, the effects extend far beyond the immediate survivor.

One typical response to these injuries is denial. This denial can linger for years and even decades. During that time, many victims lose their ability to seek justice in court for their injuries.

Clergy Sexual Assault Law

A common difficulty victims have in pursuing justice for childhood sexual assault comes from the imposition of statutes of limitation. States’ statutes limit the amount of time a victim must file a lawsuit. Since the victims of these horrific crimes are children when they occur, the limitations can be particularly harsh. Children are not generally able to exercise their rights. Even though many courts extend the time for children to the age of majority, this has proven an unworkable solution to the issue.

Another reason many cases failed to see a courtroom was the systematic behavior of churches in denying the existence of a problem. Churches did everything they could, both legal and illegal, to discourage the cases. They manipulated evidence, engaged in far-reaching cover-ups, transferred accused clergy members to difficult-to-reach locations, and, in some cases, attacked the survivor’s character.

Fortunately, some states have enacted laws that extend the statute of limitations for filing claims and increase compensation to victims. If you are a survivor of childhood clergy sexual assault, this is your opportunity to hold your abuser and the church accountable in court

Changes in some states’ laws provide opportunities for survivors to seek the justice they deserve. By extending the time to file a case until the survivor is older, states allow the survivor to make an informed decision concerning the best course of action for them to pursue.

It is of little surprise that some churches and clergy have fought against state laws that protect survivors’ rights. Some have acted to prevent the survivors of their abuse from being heard. They were historically slow to acknowledge and take action against priests and clergy members that engaged in the childhood sexual assault of children.

Clergy Sexual Abuse Attorneys

The attorneys at My Rights Law are ready to help clergy abuse victims financially recover against their abusers. We can prudently review your situation, help you gauge your options, and vigorously pursue all remedies against your abuser so that you can get the compensation and justice that you deserve. Clergy sex abuse victims should call (888) 702-8882 or contact us online for a free consultation.

Damages Available In Clergy Sexual Assault Claims

The damages you may be entitled to recover after a successful claim for clergy sexual abuse fall into two categories, economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages cover all the costs associated with the abuse. Non-economic damages cover the pain and suffering you endured because of the abuse and punitive damages. These damages are defined in further detail immediately below.

  • Economic damages cover every expense you have incurred because of the abuse. These damages include medical expenses, lost opportunities, future lost earnings, mental health treatment, prescriptions, lost wages, and any long-term care you received.
  • Non-economic damages will cover your pain and suffering because of the abuse. While this can cover a wide range of injuries, in clergy sexual assault cases, they typically include compensation for depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and other mental health issues that arose from the assault.
  • Punitive damages are available in some states’ clergy sexual assault cases. These awards, sometimes referred to as exemplary damages, are in place to punish the abuser and deter others from engaging in appalling behavior.
  • Treble damages are also available under some states’ clergy sexual assault laws. Treble damages allow the court to increase your award.

Many states have recognized that survivors of clergy sexual assault have suffered for too long. Those states have attempted to level the playing field and allow you the opportunity to be heard and heal.

Talk To A Clergy Sexual Assault Lawyer

If you are a survivor of clergy sexual assault, you have lived with the devastating repercussions of the act for a large segment of your life. We understand the range of emotions that must arise when you consider seeking justice. Our lawyers will take the time to learn your story and the unique facts of your assault. We will take the time to understand you and how these horrific actions have affected your life. We are here to help. Our consultation is entirely free.

We will do everything possible to protect your privacy and dignity while fighting relentlessly for the justice you deserve. During your consultation, we will answer all your questions and advise you of your options. We are here to help. Take the time to speak with us today and fully understand your rights.

FAQs About Clergy Abuse

How Can A Clergy Abuse Lawyer Assist Me?

An experienced clergy sexual abuse lawyer can help abuse survivors obtain substantial compensation from those church leaders and others who are legally responsible for causing the abuse to happen. Law firms focused on these types of abuse cases are familiar with litigation against religious institutions. Because clergy abuse lawyers commonly pursue lawsuits on behalf of abuse victims, they grasp the legal issues, know how to go after the people and institutions accused of sexual abuse, and how to get justice for victims. They can provide victims of clergy abuse with much-needed legal advice and direction.

Clergy abuse lawyers at My Rights Law provide survivors with a free case review to help them determine their legal options. My Rights Law is not just your average law firm. We treat clients like family, take the attorney client relationship very seriously, and handle each case with care. Our experienced clergy sex abuse attorneys strive to meaningfully help each abuse survivor in legal proceedings and beyond.

About Sexual Abuse

An American is sexually assaulted every 68 seconds. There are many ways sexual abuse can happen, and those who might commit these offenses could be a partner, stranger, employer, or even trusted church leader. State law and federal law both make sexual abuse illegal, and victims can sue abusers for any injuries and damages that the victims suffer.

Clergy abuse is a subset of sexual abuse, and it primarily involves religious leaders (clergypersons, rabbis, priests, ministers) who make sexual propositions or advances to those in their congregations. Types of misconduct include sexual intercourse, kissing, touching, harassment, and any other kind of inappropriate sexual behavior.

Allegations of clergy abuse are profoundly serious. For a long time, notable religious institutions have swept abuse cases under the rug in the church community. Publicly available information suggests that sex abuse in the Catholic Church has gone on since the 11th century.

Take, for example, the Boston Globe’s investigation into sexual abuses by the Catholic Church. The 2015 movie Spotlight depicted the accounts of abuse by Roman Catholic priests. Across the United States, the Catholic Church has been known to cover up child sex abuse. Church officials, dioceses, and other church leaders allowed this misconduct to go on for far too long.

What Is Child Sexual Abuse?

Child sexual abuse has been known to occur in religious institutions. There may be behavioral and emotional signs of this abuse. Notably, certain sex crimes, including child sexual abuse, child pornography, rape, or any abuse against a child, could result in the abuser being placed behind bars for life. On top of that, the abuse serves as the basis of a civil personal injury lawsuit where the victim could obtain compensation and justice. Childhood sexual abuse can ruin the lives of the victims. If you or one of your loved ones has suffered any form of childhood abuse, you should immediately speak with an attorney to determine your legal options.

What Type Of Damages Can I Get For Filing An Abuse Lawsuit?

Sexual abuse attorneys could help you – the victim – get substantial compensation by bringing a lawsuit against the abuser and others who allowed that abuse to happen. You could receive money for medical expenses, medical treatment, pain and suffering, emotional distress, and more. Sexual abuse survivors’ claims can be different, so it can be challenging to determine what kind of compensation you will receive without you discussing your specific case with an attorney. Skilled sexual abuse attorneys help to ensure that abuse survivors get as much possible compensation and justice.

My Abuser Has Passed Away. May I Still File A Claim?

It depends on your state. In some states, you can pursue your claim against the responsible church even if your abuser is no longer alive. Your claim for clergy sexual assault may proceed against the church(es) responsible for the clergy member.

Does My Clergy Abuser Have To Be A Priest?

While most of the cases involve male priests, the law typically applies to any clergy member. This includes anyone employed by or working on behalf of the church. Other examples include nuns, church administrators, staff members, bishops, and Sunday School teachers.

As An Abuse Survivor, Can I Press Criminal Charges Against My Abuser?

Whether or not your state pursues charges depends on many circumstances, including the age of the offense, available evidence, and other considerations.

Are There Support Groups For Survivors Of Clergy Sexual Abuse?

Yes. The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) is an internationally recognized support organization. They are the largest and oldest such organization in the world and offer support groups and services for anyone wounded by religious authorities, including priests and all members of the clergy.

Call My Rights Law Clergy Abuse Lawyers Today

If you or your loved one is a clergy abuse survivor, reach out to an experienced sexual abuse attorney for guidance. A free consultation can enable you to learn what steps to take from a legal standpoint, including how you can obtain compensation from those who are at fault.

As one of our legal practice areas, the attorneys at My Rights Law help sex abuse survivors take legal action against their abusers. With your consultation, we will thoroughly evaluate your situation and advise you on your options, potential legal claims, and how to proceed. Clergy abuse cases are generally handled by My Rights Law on a contingency fee basis. This means that attorney’s fees are not due unless your legal case results in a resolution. The clergy sexual abuse lawyers at My Rights Law are eager to hold your abuser accountable and make them compensate you. Remember that the clergy abuse statute of limitations limits clergy abuse survivors’ time to bring suit, so don’t delay. To request a consultation with the skilled sex abuse lawyers at My Rights Law, call (888) 702-8882 or leave a message on our secure web form.

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