Sexual Abuse by the Catholic Church
Until recently, only a small number of individuals who were sexually abused as children by members of the Catholic Church disclosed what had happened to them. When New York’s landmark Child Victims Act went into effect, hundreds of cases were filed on behalf of those who were sexually abused as children – the majority of those cases were brought against the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church anticipates that these lawsuits are just the beginning of a massive wave of litigation as the laws in New York, New Jersey and many other states were amended to authorize claims that were previously precluded by the statute of limitations.
Rising Number of Allegations of Sexual Abuse Against Catholic Church
In August 2018, accounts of sexual abuse that date back to the 1950s and 1960s were revealed in a grand jury report focusing on abuse in six Pennsylvania dioceses. Since then, several other states have launched investigations into allegations of sexual abuse and commissioned their own reports. Moreover, the number of allegations against clergy and the Catholic Church has continued to soar. The Catholic Church reported in May 2019 that allegations of child sexual abuse by clerics more than doubled in its most recent twelve-month reporting period and that funds applied toward victim compensation funds exceeded $300 million.
The Church’s Failure to Supervise Abusers
Investigations of abuse in the Catholic Church have largely revealed that superiors in the clergy, including bishops, archbishops, and even popes, knew about and ignored the abuse, and/or failed to take action to reprimand and remove the abusers. In many cases, superiors in the Catholic Church concealed the sexual abuse of minors and sought to protect the perpetrators. Complaints of sexual abuse were often dismissed or the offenders were simply moved to a different parish where the abuse would resume with other children. Any clergy member who was involved in the abuse or its cover up can be held liable in a civil claim.
Catholic Dioceses Compensation Funds
Multiple dioceses around the country have established funds to offer settlements to victims due to the large number of claims against the Church. Settlement amounts can vary considerably among accusers. If you agree to a settlement, then you relinquish your right to bring an individual lawsuit at a later date. If you pursue an individual lawsuit, then financial compensation for your injuries could entail economic damages for out-of-pocket costs such as medical treatments and loss of income, non-economic damages for pain and suffering, and possibly punitive damages. Children, who are now adults, who were sexually violated for years by trusted members of the clergy, finally have an opportunity to have their voices heard.
Levy Konigsberg LLP is a nationally recognized law firm that has recovered millions of dollars for victims of sexual abuse. If you or a member of your family has been the victim of sexual misconduct by members of the Catholic Church, please contact our lawyers for a free and confidential consultation by calling 1-800-225-9825 or submitting an email inquiry on this page.