When families choose churches, they expect that they will provide them with a safe environment for spiritual growth. Unfortunately, some churches fail to protect their congregants from the abuse of clergy members who prey on minors. Children do not always have the emotional and mental capacity to understand what happens to them until much later, or they may fear coming forward. For this reason, many victims do not pursue legal action until they have reached adulthood.
If you suffered abuse by a clergy member in an Orange County church, you might still have the opportunity to hold them accountable for the harm they caused you, and a Santa Ana clergy abuse lawyer can help. Contact Pintas & Mullins Law Firm today at (800) 219-9622 to speak with our legal team about your case.
The Prevalence of Clergy Abuse in the Santa Ana Area
In recent years, many victims of childhood sexual abuse in churches have come forward with their stories. An Associated Press (AP) article notes that the #MeToo movement may contribute to this increase in claims, and the amendment of statutes of limitations that previously restricted victims’ opportunities to file lawsuits likely play a role, as well. Many cases have emerged around the United States, including in the Santa Ana area.
In 2018, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles released a list of more than 50 priests in the Diocese that victims allege of abusing them as children since 2008. The archbishop also issued a public apology to the child sex abuse victims.
Churches have a responsibility to take clergy abuse seriously, but many fail to do so in an effort to protect their image and their finances. If a priest, bishop, or another clergy member sexually abused you as a child, you may still have the option to file a lawsuit.
Extended Statute of Limitations on Civil Sexual Abuse Claims
At one time, victims of clergy abuse in California could only file civil claims against their offenders until age 26. However, the long-term effects of sexual abuse made it difficult for many to come forward, and they later found that they had missed their window of opportunity to seek financial recovery in their case. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the lasting trauma associated with abuse can lead to conditions such as:
- Depression and anxiety
- Risky sexual behaviors
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Eating disorders
- Dissociation and repression
- Relationship issues
As a result, victims may have a difficult time admitting what happened or reliving the situation. Thankfully, child sexual abuse survivors in California can now file civil claims for clergy abuse until they reach 40, which gives many the time they need to process their trauma and share their experience.
Filing a clergy abuse claim takes courage, and you deserve advocacy and support along the way. The lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm can manage your case for you and guide you through the process every step of the way, keeping you updated on its progress and addressing any concerns you have about your case. Contact our legal team at any time to get started.
A Santa Ana Clergy Abuse Lawyer Can Help You Establish Liability in Your Case
Victims who file civil claims have the unfortunate responsibility of proving that the defendant, more likely than not, committed the act alleged by the victim. You may find this difficult to do on your own, but an attorney can establish liability in your case for you.
Who you can file a claim against depends on the circumstances of your case, but it may include the perpetrator themself for the harm they caused you directly or Church authorities who did not handle your case in the appropriate manner.
Establishing liability involves proving negligence, which means that your lawyer must demonstrate that the actions of the liable party meet the criteria for negligence. These elements include:
- Duty of care: The party had an obligation to keep you safe from preventable harm within reason.
- Breach of duty: The party acted in a manner that breached their duty of care to you or failed to act when necessary to protect you.
- Causation: Their breach of duty led to your abuse.
- Damages: Your abuse led to significant damages.
Once you have established liability in your case, a clergy abuse lawyer can help you pursue financial recovery.
Financial Awards in Clergy Abuse Cases
In many cases, victims of clergy abuse qualify for one or more types of compensation. The amounts and types vary depending on the specifics of your case, such as if you had to receive treatment for your trauma or if your abuse led you to suffer emotional harm. The types of recovery you may receive include:
- Medical care for physical injuries resulting from your abuse
- Treatments you had to receive due to psychological damage
- Pain and suffering for your physical, emotional, and mental distress
A lawyer cannot guarantee that you will receive certain types or amounts of financial awards, but they can evaluate your damages and seek just compensation on your behalf. Lawyers typically prefer to settle clergy abuse cases out of court to avoid potentially long and complex court cases, but if they cannot negotiate a fair settlement, they will go to court to fight for your case at trial.
Contact Pintas & Mullins Law Firm Today to Get Started on Your Case
At Pintas & Mullins Law Firm, a Santa Ana clergy abuse lawyer understands the devastating effects childhood sexual abuse can have on a victim even into adulthood. We know that your case involves sensitive information that you may find difficult to talk about, and we will advocate for you to help minimize your direct involvement as much as possible.
If you suffered clergy abuse at a Santa Ana church, we might be able to help you pursue the financial recovery you deserve. Contact us today at (800) 219-9622 to discuss your free case evaluation with our legal team.