Clergy Childhood Abuse Scandals
No religious denomination is immune from child abuse. In recent years, the Roman Catholic Church, the Mormon Church, ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities, and a number of Protestant denominations have all been caught up in childhood abuse scandals. Children have been victimized by ministers, priests, and rabbis, as well as youth leaders, choir directors and Sunday school teachers. In far too many cases, regardless of the denomination or religion, high-ranking leaders have conspired to keep victims of clergy abuse quiet. Clergy abuse cover-ups are usually motivated by a desire to preserve the reputation of the church or religious community involved. However, all the concealment of clergy abuse ever accomplishes is to cause innocent victims to feel shame and humiliation, and endanger even more children.
At Alonso Krangel, LLP, we consider the representation of clergy childhood abuse victims to be one of our most important missions. One of our firm’s top priorities is obtaining fair compensation for victims of clergy childhood abuse, so they can begin to heal and rebuild their lives. If you or a loved one were abused by a member of the clergy, you are not the one at fault. It’s never wrong to report childhood abuse, no matter what some bishop, priest, minister, church elder or rabbi might be telling you. Our clergy childhood abuse lawyers are ready to help you take a stand, and they’ll be with you every step of the way to ensure your receive the justice you deserve.
Roman Catholic Priest Childhood Abuse
In 2004, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops commissioned the John Jay College of Criminal Justice to conduct a comprehensive priest childhood abuse study based on surveys completed by the Roman Catholic dioceses in the U.S. The product of the study, titled the John Jay Report, indicated that some 11,000 allegations had been made against 4,392 priests in the USA. This number constituted approximately 4% of the priests who had served during the period covered by the survey (1950–2002).
Until very recently, the Roman Catholic Church has treated priest childhood abuse as an internal matter. Abusive priests were sanctioned under canon law and received treatment from specialized Catholic service agencies, with relatively few of the offending priests becoming involved in the criminal justice system. Families of abuse victims were actively dissuaded from making reports to secular authorities. Habitually abusive priests were moved from parish to parish following rounds of “treatment,” leaving them free to harm more children.
Mormon Church Clergy Childhood Abuse
In 2001, the Mormon Church agreed to pay to pay $3 million to a man who showed that the church hierarchy covered up for a pedophile who sexually abused him as a child. Nationwide, dozens of childhood abuse lawsuits have been filed against the Mormon Church, and it has reached confidential settlements with many victims. Like the incidents within the Catholic Church, church officials are accused of covering up for child abusers, for failing to report child molestation to the police, and for trying to keep victims silent. Most victims of molestation and sexual assault in the Mormon Church have been female, although boys have also reported incidents of abuse.
Childhood Abuse in ultra-Orthodox Jewish Communities
Orthodox Jewish and Hasidic communities are extremely tight knit, and in many ways, closed off to the outside world. They may even operate their own tribunals where childhood abuse cases are adjudicated without the involvement of law enforcement. Rabbis in Hasidic Jewish communities are very powerful, and are considered the final authority in most matters. Some ultra-Orthodox leaders have publically stated that an observant Jew should never report allegations of child abuse against a fellow Jew to secular authorities. Families who have been brave enough to defy their leaders have been subject to retaliation and harassment. Some ultra-Orthodox Jews have lost jobs, seen their children expelled from schools and summer camps, and even been evicted from their homes because they dared to report a childhood abuser.
Jehovah’s Witnesses Clergy Childhood Abuse
A number of people have reportedly been expelled from the Jehovah’s Witnesses after accusing it of covering up the sexual abuse of children by its members. Those who have been expelled claim the church’s policies encourage childhood abuse cover-ups. For example, when an allegation is made, a panel of church elders, all men, meets in secret to decide the case. To prove an accusation, a child must have a witness to the incident, a condition that is usually impossible to meet. If the abuser confesses to the elders and is forgiven, the only notice given to the congregation is an announcement that the person has been disciplined. The church is said to keep a database with the names of more than 20,000 members and associates in the U.S., Canada and Europe who have been accused or found guilty of childhood abuse.
Clergy Childhood Abuse in Protestant Churches
In 2007, the three companies that insure a majority of Protestant churches said they typically receive upward of 260 reports a year of children younger than 18 being sexually abused by members of the clergy, church staff members, volunteers or congregants. Protestants’ numbers are harder to come by and sketchier because the denominations are less centralized than the Catholic Church. Many congregations are independent, making reporting even more difficult.
Help for Victims of Clergy Childhood Abuse
At Alonso Krangle, LLP, we understand how difficult it can be for clergy childhood abuse victims to come forward. That’s why our clergy child abuse lawyers offer free, no obligation lawsuit consultations to anyone hurt by a religious leader. If you or a loved one were abused by a priest, minister, rabbi or other member of the clergy, and want to discuss your legal rights or just talk with someone about what happened to you, please contact us today by calling 800-403-6191.