Catholic Priest Childhood Abuse Lawsuit

Catholic Priest Childhood Abuse Lawsuit

Catholic Priest Childhood Abuse, Child Sexual Abuse Lawsuit | Catholic Clergy, Catholic Priest, Catholic Bishop, Catholic Church Hierarchy | Lawyer, Lawsuit, Attorney

Were you or a loved one sexually abused by a Roman Catholic Priest as a child? Childhood sexual abuse scandals involving the Catholic Church have erupted in dozens of countries over the past decade. Even worse, it has been proven that Bishops and other members of the Catholic Church hierarchy engaged in cover-ups and protected and enabled priest child molesters, allowing these criminals to prey on scores of innocent children for years, even decades. Evidence has recently been discovered that may link these cover-ups directly to the Vatican.

Being sexually victimized by a priest is, on its own, emotionally and spiritually scarring. If you or a loved one were abused by a priest as a child, and a Bishop or other Catholic Church official failed to protect you, you may entitled to receive damages from the diocese, religious order or any other organization that enabled your victimization. Any shame or embarrassment you might be feeling should not stop you from seeking justice – you did nothing wrong! At Alonso Krangle LLP, our childhood sexual abuse lawyers do everything they can to hold child predators, including Catholic priests and their enablers, accountable to the fullest extent of the law. Our childhood sexual abuse lawyers can help you obtain the justice you need and deserve.

The Scope of the Catholic Priest childhood Sexual Abuse Scandal and Cover-up

According to a study conducted by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, about 4 percent of U.S. priests ministering from 1950 to 2002 were accused of sex abuse with a minor. The study said that 4,392 clergymen—almost all priests—were accused of abusing 10,667 people, with 75 percent of the incidents taking place between 1960 and 1984. For the entire 52-year period covered by the study “the problem was indeed widespread and affected more than 95 percent of the dioceses and approximately 60 percent of religious communities,” the report concluded.

Unfortunately, much of the abuse committed against children by Catholic priests during those years was hidden until recently. That’s because rather than aiding childhood victims and their families, Bishops and other high-ranking Catholic Church officials were more concerned about protecting their criminal priests and the reputation of the Church. It’s only been in the past decade or so that some of the now-adult victims of child molesting priests have had the courage to finally come forward and tell their stories. And what they’ve had to say is sad and shocking. In many instances, when their families brought abuse to that attention of Bishops or other Church authorities, they were pressured into keeping quiet. Rather than alerting secular criminal authorities, many Bishops simply moved offending priests to a new parish, inadvertently providing them access to new child victims.

It’s now becoming apparent that the Bishops who for so long hid the true scope of childhood sexual abuse within the Catholic Church may not have been acting independently, but rather at the directive of the Vatican. In 2011, a letter was discovered that undermines Vatican claims that it never instructed local Bishops to conceal childhood sexual abuse allegations from criminal investigators. In the 1997 letter, Ireland’s Papal Nuncio (the equivalent of a Vatican Ambassador) warned Bishops in that country not to report all abuse cases to police, technically due to church rules stating punishment must come from within the church hierarchy and that bishops must not level civil punishment against those under their supervision. The letter was written in response to an initiative launched by the Bishops that would have required that any child abuse allegation made against a priest to be reported to secular authorities. Priest childhood abuse victims and their advocates point to this letter as the “smoking gun” that proves the Vatican actively tried to prevent criminal investigations against sexually abusive priests.

Catholic Church Childhood Sexual Abuse Lawsuit Settlements and Verdicts

This shocking behavior has finally caught up to the Church hierarchy. Their grown victims are now seeking to hold the Church accountable for enabling child predators, and some who have filed lawsuits against religious orders and Catholic dioceses have been awarded million of dollars in damages by sympathetic jurors. In other instances, the Church has chosen to settle lawsuits rather than open itself up to the scrutiny of a trial. Some of the largest settlements have included:

  • May 2011: The Pacific Northwest chapter of the Roman Catholic Church’s Jesuit order has agreed to pay $166 million to settle more than 500 child sexual abuse lawsuits against priests in five states. The names of the priests involved have not been made public.
  • August 2008: The Diocese of Belleville, Illinois, was ordered by a jury to pay $2.4M in compensatory damages and $2.6M in punitive damages to the victim of one of its priests.
  • July 2007: The Archdiocese of Los Angeles agreed to pay $660 million to settle childhood sexual abuse lawsuits involving 221 priests, brothers, lay teachers and other church employees.
  • December 2004: the Archdiocese of Boston agreed to pay more than $84 million to settle to resolve childhood sexual abuse lawsuits involving 140 of its priests.

These are only a handful of the verdicts and settlements reported over the past decade in Catholic priest sexual abuse lawsuits. Childhood sexual abuse lawsuits brought against the Catholic Church in the U.S. and elsewhere had cost the Church at least $2 billion by early 2012, with many more claims still to be resolved. Compensation awarded to a victim in a sexual abuse lawsuit depends on the strength of the case, statute of limitations set under state laws, and the nature of abuse. An award usually includes punitive damages for physical and emotional suffering, cost of treatment if any, loss of work, and legal fees.

If you or someone you love were sexually abused at the hands of a Roman Catholic priest, you may be able to file a childhood sexual abuse lawsuit seeking compensation from not only the abuser, but any Church officials and organizations that may have aided and abetted their crimes. Alonso Krangle LLP offers free lawsuit evaluations to priest Childhood sexual abuse victims and their families. To learn more about obtaining the justice you deserve, please contact the compassionate and experienced childhood sexual abuse lawyers at Alonso Krangle LLP by filling out our online form or calling 1-800-403-6191.