Fighting For Important Causes In State And Federal Courts
When someone is sexually assaulted by a trusted priest of the Catholic Church, they are likely to suffer a lifetime of physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual wounds. It is not uncommon for a survivor of sexual abuse to struggle with the trauma of their injuries every day. Many find it difficult to report or press criminal charges. However, another option a survivor has is filing a personal injury lawsuit against the individual that abused them and the Catholic Church that allowed it to occur.
If you or a loved one was the victim of sexual assault, contact our Los Angeles attorney for sexual abuse victims of Catholic Church priests. The Law Offices of Andrew Shubin provide survivors compassionate, professional, and aggressive representation while fighting for the compensation they deserve. Call (814) 826-3586 to schedule a free, confidential appointment.
Statute of Limitations in Los Angeles for Sexual Abuse by Catholic Priests
Under California law, sexual predators could be punished. However, due to the statute of limitations, many survivors of sexual abuse by members of the Catholic Church were barred from seeking justice or compensation because of the decades that passed since the abuse occurred.
However, in 2019 the governor of California, Gavin Newsom, signed AB 218 into law. This new law gave victims of abuse the ability to pursue justice where they once were prohibited. Taking effect in January 2020, AB 218 increases the age limit for victims of abuse to bring criminal or civil claims against a member of the Catholic Church or any other religious organization. This additional time will prove invaluable to those survivors who struggled with coming forward with their allegations.
AB 218 expanded the minimum age a survivor of sexual assault by a member of the Catholic Church from twenty-six years old to the age of forty. The law also provided a three-year lookback window for victims of any age to refile a claim that was originally prohibited or dismissed due to the old statute of limitations.
Criminal Charges Versus Civil Lawsuits for Sexual Abuse by Catholic Priests in Los Angeles
Survivors of sexual assault could file criminal charges against their assailant. When this occurs, the state’s attorney will prosecute the case against the defendant. In most situations, the assault victim provides little more than a statement and potentially some evidence. The focus of the criminal investigation and trial is to punish the sexual abuser. Unfortunately, in many cases where decades have passed, the available evidence is limited. In other situations, the alleged abuser has died during the intervening years.
Because of the burden of proof required in a criminal proceeding, obtaining a conviction in a decades-old assault is challenging, if not impossible. When criminal charges fail to yield the result the prosecution desires, a victim of sexual assault could feel they opened old wounds for no reason. Even when a sentence is handed down, a survivor might not experience a sense of justice.
Survivors of sexual abuse by the Catholic clergy are not limited to filing criminal charges. They are also entitled to pursue a personal injury lawsuit in civil court. The focus on these proceedings is not necessarily punishing the abuser but obtaining compensation for the victim. Often, a survivor of abuse will feel a greater sense of involvement and justice through a civil lawsuit because of their more intimate participation in the case.
If no criminal charges were filed, you are not barred from bringing a civil case. In fact, because the burden of proof is less strenuous in a civil matter, the likelihood of success is often greater – even if a criminal charge was dropped or a not guilty verdict was rendered. In cases where your assailant is deceased, you could still file a claim against the Catholic Church or institution that permitted the abuse to occur.
Damages for Sexual Abuse by Catholic Clergy in Los Angeles
As stated above, criminal charges are focused on punishing your assailant. When our Los Angeles, California attorney for sexual abuse by the Catholic Church files a civil lawsuit on your behalf, we will be seeking monetary compensation for the pain you suffered. In most cases, you are not limited to suing the priest who assaulted you. The Catholic Church itself could be held liable if its conduct permitted the assault. For instance, if the Church ignored previous allegations of abuse or transferring a priest to your parish due to accusations of sexual misconduct at another location.
Compensation in a civil lawsuit typically comes in two categories of damages: economic and noneconomic. Economic damages in most civil cases usually include financial recovery for a person’s medical expenses or lost wages. If the abuse you experienced was decades ago, you might not believe you have suffered any financial loss. However, if you required years of psychological therapy or other medical treatment, you are entitled to be compensated for those expenses. Additionally, the trauma of sexual abuse by a trusted priest could have had a serve impact on your ability to work. It is not uncommon for survivors of sexual abuse to struggle with relationships and other activities people take for granted. If our office could show that your ability to earn a living was significantly and adversely affected by the abuse, you could be awarded the income you would have earned if not for the assault.
Noneconomic damages relate to the physical pain and emotional suffering you endured because of the sexual assault. While much more difficult to calculate than a financial loss, compensation for emotional distress or your inability to enjoy life, could be substantial.
In addition to the typical damages awarded in a civil case, you may also be entitled to punitive damages. Typically, the damages awarded in a civil case are related directly to the harm you suffered. However, punitive damages are awarded to punish the Catholic Church for its complicity in the sexual abuse you suffered.
Contact Our Los Angeles Attorney for Sexual Abuse Victims of Catholic Church Priests for a Free Consultation
Sexual assault and abuse leave its victims devastated, both physically and emotionally. When the abuse is by a trusted member of the clergy, a survivor’s spirituality and faith in religion are often shaken. If you or a loved one suffered harm through the actions of a religious leader, call our Los Angeles institutional sexual abuse attorney for victims sexually abused by Catholic Church Priests. The attorneys and staff at The Law Offices of Andrew Shubin are committed to assisting the survivors of abuse find a way forward. Call (814) 826-3586 to schedule a free, confidential consultation to review your options.