Fighting For Important Causes In State And Federal Courts
North Carolina residents turn to their religious leaders within the Catholic Church for guidance on living both a spiritual and secular life. Through various priests and clergy members, the Catholic Church plays an active role in the lives of North Carolinians, such as conducting religious services, Bible studies, and outreach in the community. When a clergy member or priest abuses this trust and sexually assaults or molests a parishioner, the individual and organization should be held accountable.
The Law Office of Andrew Shubin is committed to providing professional and sympathetic legal representation to the survivors of sexual abuse and their families. If you or a loved one suffered at the hands of a clergy member, contact our attorney for victims of sexual abuse by the Catholic Church in North Carolina. For a confidential and compassionate consultation, call (814) 826-3586.
North Carolina Statute of Limitations for Child Sexual Abuse Cases
A state’s statute of limitations defines the time a victim of sexual abuse by the Catholic Church has to file a lawsuit. States across the country have been reevaluating their statute of limitations concerning childhood sexual abuse due to a strong effort by survivors and advocates. In North Carolina, a survivor of sexual abuse had only three years from the date of their 18th birthday to file a civil court claim. An exception existed if the victim could prove that the abuse was concealed. This deadline placed an undue burden on the victim, especially when it is not uncommon for a survivor of sexual abuse to wait years or decades to come forward.
In 2019, North Carolina passed the SAFE Child Care Act. This new legislation made two critical changes to North Carolina’s existing statute of limitations. Under the new law, a survivor has ten years from the date of the 18th birthday to seek compensation through a civil lawsuit. Additionally, if their predator is convicted of a felony, then the survivor has two years from the date their abuser was convicted.
The SAFE Child Care Act also provides a lookback window for survivors of sexual abuse. Some other states have also included these windows in their reexamined statute of limitations. Under North Carolina’s window, a victim of sexual abuse is permitted to file a civil lawsuit even if the old statute of limitations previously barred their claim. However, this window only extends to December 31, 2021, so it crucial to speak with our North Carolina sexual abuse attorney if you a survivor that was prohibited from filing a claim.
What is Sexual Abuse in North Carolina?
In North Carolina, sexual abuse occurs when a person subjects a victim to unwanted and abusive sexual acts. This conduct could include any inappropriate behavior from unwanted touching to rape. Depending on the facts, a predator could be charged with first- or second-degree rape charges as well as being held liable through a civil personal injury lawsuit.
Who is Liable for Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church in North Carolina?
Survivors of sexual abuse by a member of the clergy or priest might wonder who could be held liable for the harm they endured. The obvious defendant in a personal injury case is the alleged priest or clergy member that committed the abusive acts. However, there are instances where the Catholic Church, through its administrators, allowed the abuse to occur. If a priest was reassigned because of alleged abuse or if reports of abuse were ignored, the church could be held responsible.
For example, the Catholic Church could have hired or placed a priest or other representative into a position without conducting a proper and thorough background check. When an individual supervises or has control over children, it is essential to ensure that they do not present an unreasonable risk of harm.
Furthermore, the Catholic Church has a pervasive history of not investigating creditable abuse claims against specific priests and clergy members. In some cases, not only have allegations been ignored, but priests have been transferred to protect them further. While this might have served to stop abusive behavior in one parish, it endangered others and provided no justice for the victims.
Our North Carolina sexual abuse attorney will examine the facts surrounding your case to determine what parties could be held liable.
Criminal Charges vs. Civil Lawsuits for Sexual Abuse in North Carolina Catholic Churches
As stated above, sexual abuse could result in criminal charges and a civil claim. One does not preclude the other. In many cases, a survivor of sexual abuse finds justice and a sense of closure through a personal injury lawsuit. No amount of compensation will remove the trauma of abuse, however, it could provide a survivor the means to receive the therapy and care they might require. It also allows the victim to play a more personal role in the process. A prosecutor will handle and make decisions in a criminal matter, while a survivor will work with our North Carolina sexual abuse attorney and take an active role in all decisions. It should be noted that a conviction, while helpful, is not necessary to prevail in a civil case. Because the burden of proof is significantly less in civil court, evidence that is insufficient to produce a conviction could be persuasive enough to win a civil case.
Schedule a Confidential Consultation with Our Attorney for Sexual Abuse Victims by the Catholic Church in North Carolina
The attorneys at The Law Office of Andrew Shubin have years of experience helping victims of sexual abuse. The traumatic events often leave scars and emotional distress that last a lifetime. Our attorney for sexual abuse victims by the Catholic Church in North Carolina believes every survivor deserves to be heard and compensated. To schedule a confidential and free appointment, call our office at (814) 826-3586.