Fighting the Epidemic of Abuse in Our Churches
The nation’s religious organizations and our places of worship have always been considered sacred sanctuaries for those in need and those most vulnerable in our society. They also play an important role in educating and bringing spiritual guidance to our youth. Unfortunately, there have been a growing number of documented instances of child sexual abuse committed by clergy from virtually every faith and denomination. While the most highly publicized of these cases have primarily involved the Catholic Church, abuse has been reported within numerous other religious organizations, including the Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran, Seventh Day Adventist, Disciples of Christ, Latter Day Saints, Apostolic, Calvary Chapel, Christian Science, Church of Christ, Episcopal, Friends (Quaker), Mennonite, Evangelical, Nondenominational (Christian), and Judaism faiths.
Detection of child sexual abuse is a difficult process in any situation, but when prominent members of religious institutions are involved, victims and their families can experience a serious amount of conflicting emotions. The underlying fact is that any knowledge, evidence or reasonable suspicion of sexual abuse should be reported and should most certainly be investigated. Our California clergy sexual abuse lawyers have been advocates for the safety of children throughout our individual careers, making our firm a strong choice for anyone who is looking for first responders who can guide them through the legal process from the very beginning until the very end and beyond. If you or someone you know is in an abusive situation with a clergy member, please contact a clergy sexual abuse attorney in California that you can rely on at our firm by calling (949) 557-5800, we are available 24/7.
Catholic Clergy Child Sexual Abuse
Beginning in the 1990s, the true scope of the problem of child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church began to surface, largely as the result of courageous victims working with civil trial lawyers as well as investigative journalists. The true number of children who have been abused by Catholic priests, lay volunteers, and church employees, is unknown.
A study commissioned by the church itself indicated that 11,000 allegations of abuse were made again 4,392 priests in the United States between 1950-2005, constituting approximately 4% of the priests who had served during that period. Given the fact that abuse in the church has been grossly underreported, it is likely that the true incidence is much higher. Catholic abuse survivors have even established a database for victims to utilize to obtain information on priests suspected of abuse.
The scandal of child abuse involving the Catholic Church has been terribly exacerbated by the conduct of the church hierarchy; the bishops, cardinals and other high-ranking officials within the church who became aware of abusive priests but who often did little or nothing to expose predators or protect children. There have been numerous documented instances of known priest-pedophiles who were not reported to law enforcement by church officials and who, in many instances, were simply reassigned from one parish to another where they continued to abuse children.
Holding the Church Liable
Where there is evidence that the Catholic church leadership itself knew or suspected abuse by its priests and other employees and either failed to take appropriate action or, at worst, effectively aided and abetted further abuse by predators, the church may be held liable in civil court for damages, regardless of whether the abusive priest has been criminally charged, died, or left the country. For example, in 2004, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange in California settled nearly 90 cases for $100 million.
In 2007 the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Portland, Oregon agreed to a $75 million settlement with 177 claimants and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Seattle agreed to a $48 million settlement with more than 160 victims. In July 2007 the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles reached a $660 million agreement with more than 500 alleged victims. In December 2006, the archdiocese had a settlement of 45 lawsuits for $60 million. In September 2007, the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego reached a $198.1 million “agreement with 144 childhood sexual abuse victims.”
Representing Clergy Abuse Survivors Throughout California and the Nation
The Senators Firm represents clients throughout the state of California as well as across the country. We understand the severity of clergy sexual abuse cases and know that many victims and families face an entanglement of emotions, religious obligations, and deeply personal circumstances when considering legal actions. Whether offenders have been arrested, are under investigation, or have yet to be accused, our legal team is prepared to meet with victims and families and work toward unearthing the truth and obtaining justice. We are prepared to help victims of any religious denomination.
If you would like to learn more about the ways in which our compassionate California clergy sexual abuse attorneys can fight for you during your civil sexual abuse case, contact The Senators Firm to speak with a member of our legal team. You can also schedule a free case evaluation to learn more about the potential merits of your claim and the steps you can take to achieve justice.