Fighting For Important Causes In State And Federal Courts
The issue of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church has existed in reality and the media for many years. Evidence has continually come to light that the Church has actively and knowingly concealed allegations of sexual abuse while reassigning and protecting clergy members who have been accused of abuse. Victims of sexual abuse have options to pursue both criminal and civil charges. However, often the victim is reluctant or unable to come forward – especially when the abuse occurred when they were young children.
Survivors of sexual abuse by the Catholic Church could have the grounds to file a civil lawsuit against individual priests, teachers, lay clergy, or the administrators that allowed the abuse to occur. When a local parish or diocese fails to protect members of their congregation or hides allegations of abuse, it should be held accountable. If you or a loved one was a victim of abuse, contact our attorney for victims of sexual abuse by the Catholic Church in Montana. Call The Law Office of Andrew Shubin at (814) 826-3586.
Suing the Catholic Church in Montana for Sexual Abuse
Victims of sexual abuse by members of the Catholic Church are often able to seek compensation from the Church itself as its clergy members are representatives of the Church. There are several legal theories under which our Montana sexual abuse lawyer could use to recover from the Catholic Church.
For example, the Church could be held liable for the misdeeds of its priests or clergy members when they are acting as direct representatives of the institutions. When the contract is initiated through the priest’s duties, such as running a CYO organization, the Church could also be held accountable.
As evidence has suggested, in many cases, the Catholic Church has failed to act on allegations of sexual misconduct or has actively covered-up complaints of abuse. Alleged suspects have been transferred to other dioceses or their roles in their current parish have been changed to avoid contact with children. When an institution intentionally protects sexual abusers, it should be held liable both civilly and criminally.
The Church could have also been negligent in its hiring practices and placement of its priests. For example, failing to perform adequate background checks or provide proper scrutiny after the fact.
Damages Available in a Lawsuit Against for Sexual Abuse by the Catholic Church in Montana
Victims of sexual abuse by clergy members have suffered negative impacts in many aspects of their lives, from the physical trauma to the emotional scars that could last a lifetime. Under Montana law, survivors of abuse are permitted to recover compensation through a civil lawsuit against the individual abuser and possibly the Catholic Church itself.
The damages available are similar to any other personal injury case. A survivor could recover both economic and non-economic damages. Depending on the facts of the case, a court could also award punitive damages.
Our experienced Montana sexual abuse attorney will work to maximize a survivor’s potential recovery. Some of the financial damages available include the expense of counseling and therapy, other medical costs, and lost wages. In addition, a survivor could recover for intangible harm such as emotional distress, mental anguish, and the adverse impact it has on their quality of life.
Statute of Limitation for Child Sexual Abuse Cases in Montana
All personal injury claims filed in Montana, including those filed for sexual abuse, must comply with the applicable statute of limitations. The statute of limitations is a law that sets the deadline for when a claim must be filed. Once the deadline passes, a plaintiff is barred from filing their claim and recovering any compensation.
Many states have been reevaluating their statute of limitations relating to childhood sexual assault because of the difficulty many survivors face in coming forth with a claim. In 2019 Montana’s legislature adopted a new law that increased the time a survivor of childhood sexual abuse had to file a civil lawsuit. The old statute required that a victim file a lawsuit by their 21st birthday. Under the new law, the time was expanded to the victims’ 27th birthday or three years after the abuse was discovered. There was also a one-year window that allowed victims to file claims even if they were barred by the statute of limitations. Unfortunately, that window ended on May 7, 2020.
Criminal or Civil Claims for Sexual Abuse in Montana
Sexual abuse is criminal conduct and a clergy member or priest of the Catholic Church could face criminal prosecution for abuse in Montana. A survivor of abuse often only plays a small role in a criminal case. The prosecutor is looking to sentence the abuser, not necessarily achieve justice or closure for the victim. A civil lawsuit allows a survivor of sexual abuse the opportunity to take a more active part if they choose. In many cases, this provides the victim a sense of personal justice and closure.
A criminal proceeding does not preclude a civil claim. Furthermore, a conviction is not required to prevail in a personal injury lawsuit. The burden of proof is much greater in a criminal case, so an abuser could be found not-guilty and still face a civil claim.
Contact Our Attorney for Sexual Abuse Victims of the Catholic Church in Montana for a Free Consultation
Sexual abuse is devastating and impacts the victim and their family. When the abuse comes at the hands of a trusted priest or religious leader, the victim often experiences additional trauma, especially if they believe they cannot report the incident. Institutions that allow this type of abuse to continue should be held accountable. Our experienced attorney for sexual abuse victims of the Catholic Church in Montana provides compassionate and sympathetic representation to survivors. Call The Law Office of Andrew Shubin at (814) 826-3586 if you or a loved one suffered at the hand of someone related to the Catholic Church.