If you or a loved one has suffered sexual abuse while at a church or religious event you may be entitled to compensation for any psychological trauma, medical bills, lost income, or other damages. Our law firm is working with some of the more experienced sexual abuse attorneys in the country and there are no legal fees until you receive a settlement or award. Call us toll free or contact us online for a free consultation.
Has Someone You Know Suffered from Clergy Sexual Abuse?
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Religious leaders are often looked to for moral guidance but in recent years the public’s trust in these leaders has been shaken by numerous cases of clergy sexual abuse. News of these cases has caused many religious organizations to begin using safeguards that will protect children in the future. However, many cases of past abuse have still not been reported and some churches still have not changed their negligent practices. Lawsuits have been filed against churches for the sexual misconduct of:
- Music leaders
- Nursery workers
- Sunday school teachers
- Youth ministers
Sexual Abuse and the Catholic Church
Many news stories have reported on children and teenagers in the Catholic Church who suffered sexual misconduct from priests and other members of the church. According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, over a 50-year period in the United States the Catholic Church received abuse complaints concerning more than 6,000 priests. These incidents have led to more than 3,000 lawsuits causing the Catholic Church to pay more than $3 billion in settlements and awards (i). Additionally, news stories have revealed that the Catholic Church moved hundreds of priests accused of such abuse from parish to parish and even country to country in order to avoid criminal conviction (ii). In May 2012, The New York Times reported that a New York Cardinal paid up to $20,000 to priests accused of this misconduct so that they would leave the priesthood (iii). These stories show that the Church was negligent in protecting children and it even took steps to protect priests who were sexual predators.
Sexual Abuse among other Religious Groups
This type of misconduct among church leaders has also been reported in many other denominations and religious organizations. Protestant and evangelical churches have been accused of having negligent practices that have allowed church leaders to sexually abuse children and teenagers. Churches may be negligent if they hire a staff member without an adequate screening process and they may also be negligent if they do not screen volunteer workers. In fact, one study found that 50% of all sexual misconduct cases at church involved volunteer workers (vi).
Other religious groups form exclusive communities that can create an environment that allows sexual misconduct while making it difficult for victims to come forward. Groups like the Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) often handle these accusations within the church. These closely-knit religious groups handle claims of sexual abuse “in-house” and discourage involving outsiders in church affairs. This method of handling cases “in-house” is not practical and victims should talk to a lawyer about their legal rights. Coming forward with a legal claim can be difficult but it is an important step in preventing other children from becoming victims and revealing negligent church practices so that they can be corrected. Allegations of misconduct have also been reported by members of Hare Krishna and Judaism.
Clergy Sexual Abuse Lawsuits
Some of the largest clergy settlements and awards have been against the Catholic Church. In September 2003, it was reported that the Archdiocese of Boston agreed to pay an $85 million dollar in order to settle abuse allegations from over 500 victims (v). In July 2007, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles settled similar claims for over $600 million. This same Archdiocese had previously settled 86 sexual abuse claims for more than $114 million (vi). Sexual abuse lawsuits have been filed in Chicago, Philadelphia, Portland, and all across the United States.
Do You or a Loved One Need Legal Advice Concerning Clergy Sexual Abuse?
If you or a loved has suffered sexual abuse while at a church or religious meeting, then you may be able to recover for your injuries. Our law firm has focused solely on personal injury law and we are sensitive to the needs of our clients. We work with some of the more experienced sexual abuse lawyers in the country who can help you assert your legal rights. And, there are no legal fees until you receive a sexual abuse settlement or award.
Feel free to call our 24-hour phone line at 1-800-992-6878 for more information or fill out a contact form for a free legal consultation.
- (i) The Philadelphia Inquirer, June 2012.
- (ii) USA Today, June 2004.
- (iii) The New York Times, May 2012.
- (iv) Christianity Today, March 2002. Citing 1996 Church Law & Tax Report.
- (v) The New York Times, September 2003.
- (vi) Washington Post, July 2007.