Fighting For Important Causes In State And Federal Courts
When news breaks about sex abuse scandals in the church, many people begin to analyze their past experiences and find that they might have also been the victim of sexual abuse. Others are emboldened to come forward and tell the stories that they have been keeping secret for years.
Over the past few years, allegations have come to light about sexual abuse by CYO counselors, staff, and priests throughout California, particularly in Northern California. If you or a loved one was a victim of sexual abuse, sexual assault, or molestation in one of these CYO programs, out lawyers can help you tell your story and seek compensation for what happened to you.
For a free, confidential review of your case, call (814) 826-3586 to speak with the attorneys for CYO child abuse and molestation cases at The Law Office of Andrew Shubin.
Catholic Youth Organization Sexual Abuse Cases
Many victims have come forward – and more victims are finding out – about sexual abuse that happened to them while participating in CYO (Catholic Youth Organization) programs across California. In many of these cases, priests, parish staff, and volunteers were responsible for supervising or caring for children in their charge but instead betrayed their trust and sexually abused, sexually assaulted, or molested them.
If you were a victim of sexual abuse by a priest or anyone involved in a CYO program, our attorneys for CYO child abuse and molestation cases can help you bring a lawsuit against the program, the parish, and the individual abusers who harmed you. Even though many of these cases happened years ago, justice might still be available under California’s laws.
Statute of Limitations on Sexual Abuse Claims Against CYO in California
Under California law, there is usually a limited amount of time to bring any criminal charges or civil claims against a person or entity (like a parish or organization). In cases of sexual abuse of a minor, the law gives victims quite a long time to come forward, but it does still limit when the case can be filed under Ca. Civ. Proc. Code § 340.1.
Generally, the statute of limitations for negligence cases – which covers most personal injury claims – is 2 years under Ca. Civ. Proc. Code § 335.1. However, under § 340.1, “childhood sexual assault” cases must be filed within 22 years of the victim turning 18 – i.e., until the victim’s 40th birthday.
There is an even longer extension permitted when the victim did not know that the mental/emotional effects they face from the sexual assault was in fact caused by sexual assault. Many times, victims repress what happened to them and literally cannot remember the events until they are reminded of them by news reports about abuse or by exploring their past in therapy. If you discover that you were the victim of sexual abuse later than your 40th birthday, you can still sue for damages if you do so within 5 years of the discovery.
This deadline to file applies to lawsuits against the individual abuser as well as lawsuits against an entity that allowed the abuse to happen when it should have been preventing it. In a case like this, that could mean the parish or Catholic Youth Organization itself. Cases against the entity are, however, barred after the victim turns 40 if the entity did not know about the abuse or did not “take reasonable steps” (other than merely providing therapy) to “safeguard” against sexual abuse.
What Constitutes “Childhood Sexual Abuse” in Cases Against CYO in California?
Generally speaking, any kind of offensive or violent touching usually qualifies as “battery” for a civil lawsuit against the perpetrator. Sexual abuse, assault, and molestation usually qualify under this category, but general cases of battery are not given the same extended filing deadline that “childhood sexual assault” is given.
For this extended deadline and for something to qualify as “childhood sexual assault,” it must be the specific conduct listed under § 340.1(d). That section lists several sections of the California Penal Code, including those dealing with rape, sodomy, incest, and molestation crimes as well as crimes involving facilitation of child pornography or transporting a minor for one of these illegal purposes.
Our attorneys can review your case and determine whether what happened to you or your child qualifies under these specific statutes or otherwise qualifies you for a lawsuit. Even if the conduct did not qualify as “childhood sexual assault” for an extended deadline, you might still be able to file your case if the conduct happened within the past 2 years or you are still under 20 years of age (as the deadlines for other claims with a 2-year statute of limitations are typically paused until you turn 18).
Since much of the time the abuse happened years ago, the courts also often need to see a “certificate of merit” from your therapist or psychiatrist stating that they believe you have a legitimate case on your hands. This requirement comes under § 340.1(g). Without this, it might be difficult to get your claim into court unless there were reasonable excuses. The certificate can be filed after filing your case under some circumstances, allowing you to get your claim in under the deadline if it is close.
Damages for Sexual Abuse by CYO Priests and Staff in California
If you were abused by workers or priests in a CYO program, you could be entitled to compensation for any results of that abuse. This can include the mental and emotional results, such as PTSD symptoms, depression, anxiety, and other issues. You can also get compensation for medical bills to treat injuries and therapy bills to treat you mentally/emotionally.
On top of these damages, you could also be entitled to punitive damages if it is shown that the organization or parish covered up abuse. Many parishes have been accused of covering up abuse by priests by moving priests around and silencing victims. If this occurred in your case, you could be entitled to treble damages – which means the court triples the damages you receive.
Call Our Attorneys for CYO Child Abuse and Molestation Cases in California
For a free case evaluation with our attorneys for CYO child abuse and molestation, call The Law Office of Andrew Shubin at (814) 826-3586.