Fighting For Important Causes In State And Federal Courts
The trauma of sexual abuse rarely, if ever, ends when the abuse stops. When the predator is a trusted clergy member of the Catholic Church in Vermont, the devastating effects could last a lifetime. Survivors often struggle with anxiety, shame, guilt, suicidal thoughts, and the inability to maintain healthy intimate relationships. Many victims of sexual abuse will not report or acknowledge the abuse for years or decades.
The Catholic Church in Vermont has a notorious history of not only covering-up allegations of sexual abuse, many dioceses actively protected sexual predators by ignoring complaints or reassigning the offender to another position or parish. When this occurs, the assailant and the organization that allowed the abuse to occur should be held responsible. Our attorneys for victims of sexual abuse by the Catholic Church in Vermont at The Law Office of Andrew Shubin are focused on providing professional and compassionate legal representations for survivors. If you are a survivor of sexual abuse by a priest, clergy member, or another representative of the Catholic Church, contact our office at (814) 826-3586 for a confidential and free consultation.
The Statute of Limitation for Victims of Sexual Abuse of the Catholic Church
Over the last few years, advocates and survivors of childhood sexual abuse have been lobbying for drastic changes in the statute of limitations across the country. A statute of limitations is a law that governs when a criminal case or civil lawsuit must be filed. For instance, if you were injured in a car crash in Vermont, you would have to file a lawsuit claim within three years of the accident.
The statute of limitation for victims of child sexual abuse in Vermont used to be six years from the date of the abuse. The problems with such a short amount of time should be evident. Typically, a victim of child sexual abuse will first disclose that they are a survivor of such a horrendous trauma when they are in their forties. The old six-year statute of limitations meant that many victims of sexual abuse by the Catholic Church were barred from seeking financial compensation.
In May 2019, Vermont Governor Phil Scott signed legislation that abolished the previous statute of limitations. While many states have extended the deadline a victim of child sexual abuse had to file a civil lawsuit, under Vermont’s new law, there is no longer a deadline imposed. The most radical component of Vermont’s changes is that there are retroactively effective. Many states provided a year or two window for victims who were previously prohibited from filing a lawsuit the opportunity to do so. In Vermont, anyone who was barred by the old statute of limitations is now permitted to move forward with a civil lawsuit. This means that it does not matter if the abuse occurred decades ago; survivors now have a right to seek justice and closure. While the intervening years might make a case challenging, it is not impossible. If your case was previously barred, contact our experienced Vermont sexual abuse attorney.
Who is Liable for Sexual Abuse by a Clergy Member of the Catholic Church in Vermont?
One of the questions victims of sexual abuse have is who could be held responsible for the harm they suffered. One approach is attempting to hold individual priests legally accountable for their conduct. However, in cases that happen years or decades ago, the actual priest or clergy member could be deceased.
In too many situations, the evidence shows that church administrators intentionally protected priests and other clergy members facing allegations of sexual abuse. By ignoring reports of abuse or moving a priest to another parish, church administrators created an environment that failed to protect those young people in their charge, care, or control.
While filing a personal injury lawsuit is a way to seek compensation for the physical and mental pain a survivor endured, it is also a means to hold the institutions that allow this behavior to fester responsible for their neglect. Financial restitution offers a victim of sexual abuse a tool to move forward and hopefully will result in changes from within by the authorities that have failed in their vocation.
Some potentially liable parties include other clergy members or administrators who were aware of the abusive conduct, the bishop who oversaw the parish or diocese, and the diocese itself.
Damages Available in a Vermont Lawsuit for Sexual Abuse by the Catholic Church
If you file a lawsuit in civil court, you are seeking financial compensation from the predator and the organization that permitted the conduct to occur. Damages are typically categorized in three ways: economic, non-economic, and punitive.
Economic damages refer to your actual financial losses, including medical costs, psychiatric or psychological care, and any lost income that might have resulted from the abuse.
The impacts of sexual abuse are far-reaching. Survivors experience anxiety, mental anguish, relationship difficulties, and other types of emotional trauma. The monetary damages that a victim is awarded for these intangible harms are known as non-economic damages.
Punitive damages are awarded to punish a defendant. When the conduct is intentional, malicious, or excessively egregious, then a court could award additional damages to deter such behavior in the future.
Call Our Attorney for Victims of Sexual Abuse by the Catholic Church in Vermont for a Free Confidential Consultation
The physical and emotional harm caused by sexual abuse is devastating. When the predator is a trusted member of the religious community, the pain and suffering is even worse. Because of Vermont’s commitment to the survivors of sexual abuse, even those who were victims decades ago have an opportunity to hold their abusers accountable. If you or someone you love was harmed by a clergy member, contact our attorney of sexual abuse by the Catholic Church in Vermont. Call The Law Office of Andrew Shubin at (814) 826-3586.