Clergy Sex Abuse Lawyer

If you were sexually abused by a religious leader, contact the clergy sex abuse lawyers at Edwards Pottinger for help pursuing justice.

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Religious Organization Sexual Abuse Lawsuits

Sexual abuse by clergy is often not spoken about despite its alarming and increasing count. With many of these devastating events being covered up or disregarded by religious institutions, there is a breach of trust that has been created between the church and its members.

Edwards Pottinger is a clergy sexual abuse law firm that represents people who have suffered at the hands of a clergy member. If you were sexually abused by any church official, our clergy sex abuse lawyers can help you understand your legal options.

What is Clergy Sex Abuse?

Clergy sex abuse is when a member of the church, such as priests, ministers, rabbis, or a similar religious leader, uses their position of power and trust to harass, exploit, and/or make sexual advances to members of the institution. Historically, these criminal acts were often covered up by religious institutions that encouraged church members to not go to the police.

Clergy sex abuse can look like nonconsensual sexual touching and pressuring or threatening someone into performing a sexual act, among other unwanted sexual actions.

Why Did the Catholic Church Disregard and Cover Up Sex Abuse?

The Catholic Church has had many sex abuse scandals over the last two decades with stories of predatory church officials, mostly priests, preying on vulnerable churchgoers. These stories have become widespread due to the Catholic’s Church infamous pattern of sex abuse. Although the Church was often made aware of these crimes when they happened, they often excused such incidents as caused by “a few bad apples,” and failed to properly hold the perpetrators accountable for fear of bad publicity.

According to Father Hans Zollner, a consulter to the Vatican’s Congregation for Clergy, these actions are a result of “institutional traumatization.” Sexual abuse of church members was historically tolerated and kept under wraps. These issues have stemmed across the globe with recent events in Chile highlighting the Church’s systematic failure to effectively manage and eradicate these crimes.

Child Sex Abuse Within the Catholic Church

Clergy members are required to report crimes of sexual assault to law enforcement when they become aware of such incidents; however, often church officials will conceal these actions and refuse to pursue further investigation.

Sadly, child sex abuse in particular has been commonly reported within the Catholic Church. According to one study, 81% of survivors of sexual assault by the clergy are males. The average age range when clergy sex abuse first occurred was between 11 and 14 years old. These numbers vary as many instances of abuse have not been reported.

In a recent article by NPR, it is revealed that over the past 70 years, an estimated 330,000 children were sexually abused by almost 3,000 priests and other officials of the Catholic Church.

Any form of sex abuse is traumatic, but clergy sex abuse can be particularly devastating as it often shatters the faith and belief systems of the individuals it affects. Many survivors live with long-term psychological distress, some because they never found the comfort or safe space to speak out and report their abusers. This can cause a number of mental health issues including anxiety, depression, and problems with future consensual sexual encounters.

Clergy Sex Abuse Settlements

Over the years it is estimated that the Catholic Church has paid approximately $4 billion to settle sex abuse lawsuits, according to the nonprofit group BishopAccountability. Due to the widespread coverup that occurred over years, these settlements are typically large.

In April of 2022, the Diocese of Camden, New Jersey agreed to pay $87.5 million to settle claims filed by 300 sex abuse survivors. In May of 2022, the Archdiocese of Santa Fe agreed to a $121.5 million settlement that will compensate 375 claimants. This is one of the largest Catholic Church sex abuse settlements to date.

Though abuse within the Catholic Church has received more press attention in recent years, other religious groups have also faced litigation for allegedly failing to protect their members from sexual predators. In 2018, the Kesher Israel synagogue reached a $14.25 million settlement with women who claimed they were videotaped by Rabbi Barry Freundel while ritually bathing in the mikvah.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has also faced numerous sexual abuse allegations from current and former members. Recently, it agreed to pay $250 million to settle sexual abuse claims within the Boy Scouts of America: an organization that the church helps fund.

What Are My Legal Rights as a Clergy Sexual Abuse Survivor?

Clergy members who abuse their position in the church violate the trust between themselves and innocent parishioners, shattering their feelings of faith, safety, and innocence in the process. Edwards Pottinger, a clergy sex abuse law firm, represents people who have suffered at the hands of clergy members.

There are many ways to seek justice and accountability for clergy sex abuse. A civil legal action against clergy members, church officials, and religious institutions can give survivors the opportunity to seek justice and expose the wrongdoing of clergy members. Filing a lawsuit can also help survivors recover compensation for the harm they have suffered. Although no amount of money may be able to heal or erase these devastating experiences, it may help individuals obtain closure and help prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future.

Each jurisdiction has a specific time frame in which you are able to file a lawsuit. States like California have enacted laws to extend the amount of time allotted for filing childhood sexual abuse lawsuits since it is now recognized that it can take decades for a survivor to feel comfortable speaking out.

Why Hire A Clergy Sex Abuse Lawyer?

Dealing with the aftermath of any sexual abuse can be extremely challenging. Reporting the incident and pursuing a lawsuit can be just as taxing if you do not have the right representation on your side. A clergy sex abuse lawyer can facilitate the process and help you pursue the justice you deserve.

A clergy sex abuse attorney will be able to help you understand your legal rights, the relevant state laws and statutes of limitations, and the overall process of filing your civil lawsuit, including building your case, filing the lawsuit, and fighting for a fair verdict or settlement.

Contact Our Clergy Sex Abuse Lawyers

Experiencing sexual assault by a clergy member is a devastating event, but legal action can be taken to pursue justice and compensation for the pain and suffering endured. The clergy sex abuse lawyers at Edwards Pottinger are committed to empowering and helping survivors of clergy sex abuse seek justice and take back control of their lives and well-being.

Our attorneys at Edwards Pottinger are driven, attentive, meticulous, and effective in their practice and representation of your case. Not only can we help you understand your legal rights, build a well-supported case, and assist with reporting the crime to the appropriate authorities, we are a support system committed to protecting your legal rights, preserving your privacy, and advocating on your behalf. Our firm has achieved some of the highest settlements and verdicts for survivors of sexual abuse.

Our clergy sex abuse lawyers are here to help you reclaim your power from those who harmed you. If you, or someone dear to you, has been sexually abused by a clergy member or church official, please contact the clergy sex abuse lawyers at Edwards Pottinger for help.

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