Numerous cases have come out against clergy members in the past four decades that accuse members of religious institutions of sexual abuse and predation. Over the past several years, the situation has only gotten worse as more and more clergy members have been exposed. The main offender in these cases often involves members of the Roman Catholic church.
Even more disturbing is the fact that the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston knew these things were happening and did nothing to stop it. Instead of reprimanding the offenders, they were moved from church to church, where the abuse started all over again. According to a report done by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, sexual abuse in the religious communities is so prevalent that it affects three out of five of them. This study was concluded in the 1990s, so there’s no telling how that number has grown by now.
Sexual abuse affects victims for life, often in severe ways. Many victims feel as if it were somehow their fault. Along with the shame and guilt many victims experience, there’s also a general dysfunction regarding social and emotional matters. While no amount of money can heal the scars that come from a trusted member of your church subjecting you to sexual abuse, you can still hire a clergy abuse lawyer and file a lawsuit to recover damages.
First Amendment Rights and the Church
One of the things that prevent victims from stepping forward and filing lawsuits is a mistaken belief that the First Amendment will protect the church. While it’s true that the First Amendment protects the church from government intrusion in many instances, sexual abuse is not one of them. Victims can bring claims against the church without the fear that they will go unheard. In many of these instances, the church can be prosecuted for negligence if they continued to keep on clergy members who had been accused of sexual abuse.
Statute of Limitations
Another obstacle that often stands in the way of victims pursuing a claim is the statute of limitations. Under state and federal law, you only have a certain amount of time to file a claim against someone for a committed crime. The amount of time allotted varies from state to state, so it’s best to check with a clergy abuse lawyer in your area to see what those time frames are.
There’s no excuse for someone that you trusted putting you in a position where to were forced to act in an unwanted sexual nature with them. If you have been abused by a clergy member, be sure to contact a lawyer to discuss your options for compensation.