Clergy Abuse Hotline Receives Hundreds of Calls
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More than 1,000 victims were found to have suffered clergy sexual abuse at the hands of 300 predator priests in the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Investigation. Unfortunately, the evidence presented in the investigation showed that when these priests were accused of abuse, the standard procedure was to re-assign the abuser to a new parish, where they often abused more children. The effects of this investigation caused shock waves across the nation as state officials learned that pedophile priests had been transferred to their state to minister to the public without the Church notifying the authorities of the allegations. These states are preparing their own investigations into child sexual abuse and the alleged resulting cover-ups.
One thing cannot be denied – child sex abuse crimes should never go unpunished, no matter how long ago the abuse occurred. If a priest or other clergy member in the Catholic Church abused you as a child, know that we are fighting for you and all clergy abuse victims, and we won’t stop until they are held liable for the crimes they committed.
Evidence presented during the investigation showed that children were plied with money, jewelry and other gifts, and friendship by priests who then sexually exploited them. Children were made to pose for pictures, perform acts, and submit to abuses that left them emotionally scarred, and the church abandoned them when they asked for help. Hundreds of calls were received by the Clergy Abuse Hotline in the days following the release of the Grand Jury report, some reporting concerns, others reporting abuses.
Finally, these survivors of abuse have a voice, and many are seeking to hold their abusers and those who enabled the abuse to occur legally accountable for their actions and behaviors. Across the country, survivors and their families are insisting abusive priests be identified, removed from the church, and held liable for crimes they perpetrated on children. It doesn’t matter when the abuse occurred; if you were sexually abused by a priest or other member of the clergy, you might be entitled to seek justice and significant financial compensation.
The Catholic Church is in Crisis
Allegations of sexual abuse have been made against priests and even bishops at Dioceses across the globe. Victims say that instead of protecting children, the church hid the allegations, re-assigned their abusers to other Diocese, and paid billions to keep the abuse epidemic quiet. The Grand Jury report shows that for decades the church protected its reputation over its children. The Vatican apologized to its 1.2 billion Catholic members for abandoning child abuse victims.
Tens of thousands of victims and thousands of priests have been identified, and experts say these numbers are undoubtedly low. Still, current estimates suggest that:
- Between 1950 and 2016 more than 6,721 priests were accused of abuse;
- At least 18,565 abuse victims in the U.S. have come forward or been identified;
- Between 1984 and 2009, more than 3,000 lawsuits were filed;
- Approximately two-thirds of the bishops in the U.S. have been accused of hiding abuse allegations and transferring priests;
- About 19 Catholic bishops have been accused of perpetrating sexual abuse.
It’s estimated that nearly 4 billion dollars have been paid out by the Catholic Church over sexual abuse allegations. More than 8,600 clergy abuse victims have filed lawsuits seeking justice over the past 30 years, and at least 19 Diocese and religious orders have been forced to file for bankruptcy protection.
Just some of the settlements and awards that have resulted from the lawsuits include:
- $1 million paid to eight Augustinian Province of Saint Thomas of Villanova sex abuse victims in Philadelphia;
- $166 million paid by the Oregon Province of the Jesuits to over 500 clergy sex abuse victims;
- $20 million settlement paid by the Catholic Diocese of Great Falls-Billings, Montana to 86 clergy abuse victims;
- $210 million settlement paid by the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minnesota to hundreds of clergy abuse victims;
- $3.7 million paid to six clergy abuse victims by the Diocese of Scranton;
- $60 million paid by the Archdiocese of New York over two years to clergy sex abuse victims;
- $77 million settlement paid by the Diocese of Wilmington to approximately 150 clergy abuse victims;
- $9 million paid by the Seattle Archdiocese to settle eight clergy abuse cases;
- $$$$ Archdiocese of Philadelphia pays an undisclosed amount which could be the highest payout so far to settle clergy abuse claims.
Seeking Justice for Clergy Abuse
Time and time again we saw in the PA Grand Jury report victims and their families asking for predator priests to be removed so they couldn’t hurt more children. These victims want changes enacted that will prevent this abuse from happening again, and they want those who committed these abuses and those who enabled them to face the public and admit their crimes.
But the path to justice is seldom easy and often takes the help of experienced attorneys to navigate successfully. We can help you get the justice you need and the compensation you deserve for the clergy abuse you suffered.
If the abuse victim wants to press criminal charges against their abuser, they must report the crime, so it can be investigated. The District Attorney’s Office prosecutes the abuser for violating state law. If the abuser is guilty, they face incarceration, hefty fines, or both.
But an abuse victim can also file a civil case seeking compensation for abuse they were forced to endure. The victim is not required to report the abuse to law enforcement, and your attorney, not the DA will represent you in a court of law. A judge or jury hears the evidence and decides on an amount of compensation that makes you ‘whole’ again from the physical, mental and emotional pain you suffer and for costs and expenses incurred due to the abuse.
Steps to Justice
There are only a few steps to justice in clergy abuse cases.
- Determine if you qualify to file a civil lawsuit. There are time limits and other issues that must be taken into consideration when qualifying a case. The statute of limitations establishes the deadline for filing a case. Currently, the law says that you have until you turn 30 to file a civil case and until you turn 50 to file a criminal case. However, the state is considering lifting both these time limits for clergy abuse victims in light of the Grand Jury report.
- Identify who is liable. Most clergy abuse cases name as defendants the abuser as well as the persons or entities that had a duty to protect you from abuse and failed that duty. The fact is, the law does not excuse those who turn a blind eye to abuse. Anyone who had a duty to protect the children of the church and failed to take action to stop it or report it to the lawful authorities can be held accountable for that failure.
- Your attorney will file a civil lawsuit for the abuses you were forced to endure and for the damages you sustained due to the abuse. Damages may include counseling or therapy costs or other financial losses you sustained because of the emotional, physical, and mental anguish you suffered.
- The attorneys for the plaintiff and the defense will negotiate to reach a settlement. Your attorney will be advocating on your behalf to get you the maximum compensation available by law. Should the sides not reach a fair and equitable settlement, your attorney will litigate your case in court before a judge and jury. Historically speaking, far more clergy sexual abuse cases are settled before they hit the courtroom.
We Can Help
All across the United States, District Attorneys, parishioners, and the public are paying attention to how the Vatican is responding to the clergy abuse crisis here and overseas. The Vatican has apologized and said they would do more, but it’s not enough.
We are fierce advocates for the rights of clergy abuse survivors, and we fight for those who suffered abuse at the hands of priests and other members of the clergy. Let our attorneys fight for you. We make sure predatory abusers and their enablers are held accountable for their behaviors and actions.
If you or a family member were abused by a member of the clergy, you might be entitled to hold them accountable for the damages you sustained. Additionally, if a person who had a duty to protect children from abuse knew you were being abused and failed to stop it or failed to report it, they may be held liable for failing that duty.
You have the power to hold predatory priests and sexually abusive clergy accountable for the crimes that were committed against you, and we can help. Our clergy abuse attorneys aggressively defend your rights and ensure you get the maximum compensation available by law for the abuses you endured. Contact us today to learn more about victim’s rights, how we help, and whether you are entitled to seek the justice and compensation you need and deserve.