Fighting For Important Causes In State And Federal Courts
Suing the Church or a priest for sexual abuse can be intimidating. It can take years for victims of childhood church abuse to come to terms with their experience and find a lawyer that they feel can represent their interests in a lawsuit. Understanding how the litigation process works can make survivors feel comfortable and prepared when suing for church abuse.
Unfortunately, it has become increasingly evident that church abuse is not rare. In recent years, the Catholic Church especially has become the epicenter of an abuse epidemic. Survivors who experienced church abuse as children may feel empowered to come forward with their stories. Understandably, that can be a difficult process. Preparing for a potential lawsuit with an experienced lawyer can make things easier. Your attorney can help you emotionally ready yourself for the possible hardships of litigation and can help you understand why the Church is responsible. If you file within your state’s statute of limitations, you can seek justice for the church abuse you experienced.
Our team of compassionate lawyers is prepared to help you through a church abuse case. Survivors of sexual abuse by clergy or priests deserve justice for the wrongs done to them. For a confidential and free consultation, visit our website or call the caring church abuse lawyers at The Law Office of Andrew Shubin today at (814) 826-3586.
Preparing to Sue the Church for Abuse
Coming forward with church abuse allegations can be extremely difficult for victims. As a child, the Church can be seen as a safe space to learn and grow. Being abused by a clergy member or church official can be grossly violating and traumatic. Adults abused as children by a priest can be wary of coming forward with a lawsuit. Suing the Church for sexual abuse or misconduct can be very complicated. It is important for church abuse survivors to emotionally prepare for a lawsuit.
Because church abuse cases have seemed to exponentially grow in recent decades, there is still a lot of publicity surrounding these types of lawsuits. Priests, clergy, and church officials have been accused of abuse as adult survivors continue name their childhood abusers in increasing numbers. It is possible that a lawsuit against the Church or a priest can garner significant interest from the public. Survivors can be deterred from pursuing litigation because of potential pushback from the community.
Although the church abuse lawyers at The Law Office of Andrew Shubin believe victims, sometimes members of your church may be against you filing a lawsuit. Because these cases of abuse often happen years in the past, people may question their validity. It is important to have a strong support system around you when filing a lawsuit against the Church or a clergy member for sexual abuse or misconduct. That support system includes your lawyer, who should respect you and create a safe environment for you to tell your story. Although coming forward can be difficult, it can encourage others to report their abuse as well. Unfortunately, church sexual abuse is not rare. The more survivors that come forward, the more abusers can be held accountable.
Hiring a Church Abuse Lawyer
Before you sue the Church or a clergy member for sexual abuse or misconduct, it is necessary to hire the right attorney. It can be hard for survivors to find a legal team that makes them feel heard and respected. Sharing your story of church abuse can make you feel extremely vulnerable. Your attorney should make you feel safe and cared for. Suing the Church can be very emotionally draining, especially if it is a prominent aspect of your family’s life.
Church abuse involves a powerful person breaking the trust of a child. Priests and clergy that molest, groom, harass, and abuse children can feel protected because of the nature of their position. For years, priests in the Catholic Church were able to evade responsibility for their abuse of children. Only in recent decades have lawsuits occurred that seek to hold these people accountable for their actions. Survivors have come out, in surplus, to accuse church officials and clergy of egregious sexual abuse. When you feel comfortable naming your abuser, you will require an experienced yet caring lawyer who can represent your interests correctly.
Before the church abuse lawyers at The Law Office of Andrew Shubin take a case, they will consult with survivors. During that time, ask any questions and raise any concerns you might have about suing the Church. You can bring your family or other loved ones to feel more comfortable. In fact, you can have them by your side throughout the litigation process. As a rule, your lawyer should make you feel heard and validated. If a prospective attorney is rude or dismissive of your experience, they are not the right person to represent you in a church abuse lawsuit.
Remember, this is your story. You are seeking justice for abuse done to you. In this situation, you have power. Survivors can choose the attorney with whom they feel comfortable. You do not have to settle for a legal team that does not empathize with your experience.
Suing the Church for Abuse
Some survivors may be unaware that they can sue the Church and an individual offender for abuse done to them. In many states, victims can seek justice from the institution and the individual. That being said, suing the Catholic Church for sexual abuse or misconduct can be difficult. As allegations of sexual abuse against priests have grown, the Church has shown a history of ignorance and active participation in covering up the actions of the clergy. It takes a skilled lawyer to prove that the Church itself is responsible for the abuse done to you.
When the Church Is Responsible
You can sue the Church for sexual abuse or misconduct when it acted neglectfully or intentionally to hide the actions of its clergy. Because churches often are places for children to learn, they must provide oversight to protect vulnerable children. In some states, clergy members are considered mandatory reporters, meaning they must alert the appropriate agencies if they suspect a child is a victim of abuse. Especially since it has been shown that priests have abused children, the Church should be vigilant and change its practices. If the Church was aware of previous accusations of abuse against a priest and neglected to address them, you can sue it for abuse. You could file a lawsuit against the Catholic Church if it failed to investigate abuse allegations against a priest or clergy member, allowing for that abuse to continue. In that case, you might be able to sue the responsible archdiocese if it was aware of the allegations against a priest. If the Church fails to provide a safe environment and monitor priests’ behaviors, that can be deemed as neglect. For example, if the abuse happened at a Catholic school, you could sue the school. If a priest abused you while at your parish, the parish could be sued. Suing the Church can be intimidating for a multitude of reasons. But, if it is responsible for the abuse you experienced as a child, you can file a lawsuit and seek justice.
When the Church Is Not Responsible
If your lawyer cannot prove that the Church itself was involved in your abuse, then it is difficult to sue it. That being said, it is rare for the Church to be completely unaware of a priest’s actions. In fact, the Church has a documented history of relocating offending priests to new areas once an allegation of abuse arises. In addition, it is rare for sexual abusers to have a sole victim. It is more likely that there are several other survivors that a priest has abused. Because of that, it is feasible that the Church was aware of previous allegations and attempted to cover them up by relocating a priest or intimidating a victim. Since the recent history of the Catholic Church has shown the severe sexual abuse epidemic within it, it was likely aware of the priest or clergy member’s behaviors that were responsible for your abuse. If you are unsure whether or not you can sue the Church for sexual abuse, ask an attorney. The church abuse lawyers at The Law Office of Andrew Shubin can thoroughly investigate your allegations to attempt to prove the neglect or intentional disregard for the abuse done to you.
Of course, you can choose to only sue the individual offender responsible for your abuse. That process can be simpler in theory, but the Church may try to protect them. Regardless, proving a sexual abuse case, especially years after the fact, requires a skilled attorney.
Statute of Limitations for a Church Abuse Lawsuit
Each state has a different statute of limitations for filing a sexual abuse lawsuit. Generally, the deadline for childhood victims is much longer than for adult victims. Because most church sexual abuse victims are, in fact, children, you will likely have time to decide whether or not you want to sue the Church and an individual offender.
In many states, the filing deadline for childhood victims is substantial. That being said, it varies from state to state. In addition, these deadlines can frequently change. In recent years there has been legislation in various states to filing widen the window for childhood sexual abuse victims, specifically. When children are abused by a trusted mentor, like a priest, it can take years to realize the trauma the abuse has caused. That healing process is not linear, either. If the statute of limitations were short, many victims of childhood sexual abuse would lose their right to sue.
For this reason, many states have adopted tolling – or a delay in the statute of limitations – in cases where a victim was a minor at the time of the abuse. Some states offer extensions for delayed discovery in cases where trauma has prevented survivors from acknowledging their abuse sooner. Other states have created look-back windows, which allow survivors to seek justice for the abuse done to them as a child, regardless of how much time has passed. These look-back windows are only open for a period of time, however. While some states approach church abuse cases with leniency, others do not. There are still states that have no special statute of limitations for sexual abuse allegations involving children. Because of that, it is vitally important for survivors to know the filing deadline in their state. Unfortunately, failure to file within that timeframe can cause you to lose your right to sue.
Damages from a Church Abuse Lawsuit
Some survivors may not be aware of the damages they can receive in a church sexual abuse case. Sexual abuse can result in physical, emotional, and psychological difficulties. The trauma from sexual abuse can require therapy and other treatments. The residual pain and suffering can even prevent survivors from pursuing their professional aspirations. Underestimating the severe impact sexual abuse can have on a child is irresponsible. Church abuse can alter the course of a survivor’s life. Depending on the state where your abuse happened, you can seek non-economic and economic damages in a church abuse lawsuit.
Abuse, even in the early stages of your life, can result in economic damages. Some people do not view sexual abuse the same as an injury. When you break your leg, you have to go to the doctor and get treatment. That costs money and can impact your ability to work. What some do not understand is that the same can be said for victims of childhood sexual abuse. Sexual abuse can financially impact your life. When you are abused in your formative years, you can require significant treatment. That can become expensive quickly. Those who are abused may require medications and therapies that they otherwise would not have needed. Church sexual abuse can have a significant impact on your finances in ways many do not understand. That is why working with the compassionate church sexual abuse lawyers at The Law Office of Andrew Shubin is beneficial for survivors. We understand that childhood sexual abuse can affect your life in many ways, even financially.
It is not inconceivable that childhood sexual abuse can greatly impact your quality of life. The emotional trauma from abuse, especially if an abuser is a trusted priest or clergy member, can be profound. Receiving justice for the abuse done to you through non-economic damages can validate your experience and help you continue to heal. The pain and suffering you likely endured as a victim of church sexual abuse should not be ignored during a lawsuit. Our church abuse lawyers at The Law Office of Andrew Shubin will aim to represent your interests in the most authentic way possible. Our goal is to help you receive the justice you deserve from the Church and an individual offender.
Call Our Compassionate Church Abuse Lawyers Today
If you are a survivor of church abuse, you can file a lawsuit to hold the responsible parties accountable. To schedule a free and confidential consultation, call the compassionate church abuse lawyers at The Law Office of Andrew Shubin today at (814) 826-3586.