Clergy members can misuse their positions of authority and power, and they can take advantage of children and adults who turn to them for religious guidance.
In some cases, sexual abuse victims do not come forward with allegations due to fear and embarrassment. Abuse by religious leaders can cause emotional, physical, and spiritual pain. Many suffer in silence, but more survivors are coming forward with their traumatic stories. Society and laws have changed in the last few years to support them.
An Irvine clergy abuse lawyer from the Pintas & Mullins Law Firm can help you seek justice for you or your loved one. Seeking legal recourse against abusive clergy members can help you recover. It can also save others from experiencing the same abuse from the same predator. Contact us at (800) 219-9622, and speak to one of our team members about how we can help you.
Abuse from the Clergy
Many reports of sexual abuse by clergy members have come from the Catholic Church. However, exploitation can also occur in Judaism, Hinduism, and any other religion.
It can be challenging for survivors to speak about their sexual abuse experiences. When abuse happens within a community, victims often worry about being shunned by the group. Accusing a spiritual leader can feel sacrilegious. They may fear losing their faith-based communities, going against the sect, and challenging their belief system.
In some cases, victims may question if the clergy member abused them. Sexual abuse can take several forms, including:
- Rape and sodomy
- Taking sexually explicit photos or videos
- Indecent exposure
- Sexual pressure
- Unwanted sexual advances
Some rapists and molesters in the clergy use their religious standing to convince the victim that the abuse is spiritually just. Most survivors of clergy-related sexual abuse are children who are vulnerable to sexual intimidation. It can take them years to understand that the abuse happened.
Sexual Abuse Lawsuits
California Senate Bill (SB) 813 details the statute of limitations for sexual abuse cases. A statute of limitations is the maximum time you have to start legal proceedings. The limit depends on the sex crime and the age of the victim when the abuse occurred.
Adult victims have 10 years to seek just justice for sexual misconduct. Victims who were children at the time of the sexual assault have until their 40th birthday to file. However, there is no time limit if the clergy member raped or sodomized the victim after January 2017.
The law, which was altered in 2020, also allows victims to file if they were previously unable due to the former statute of limitations. Similarly, there are some exceptions to these rules that give victims an additional five years to act. You can speak to an Irvine clergy abuse lawyer about the period you have to file based on your abuse and age. Call Pintas & Mullins Law Firm today for more information.
Who Is Responsible for Sexual Abuse
In some religions, the organization protects clergy members from the consequences of their actions. They may move the abuser to a different location or shame survivors into staying silent. While the abuser is mainly responsible, the law may consider the religious group responsible based on negligence.
Child pornography is a rampant problem that the State of California takes seriously. California Penal Code (PEN) §288.2 holds all individuals who know about child pornography responsible. This means that the clergy member and any other church members who attempted to hide sexual photos or videos of minors could face a misdemeanor or felony.
Financial Compensation for Sexual Abuse
You have the right to sue for compensation for you or your loved one. You may seek payment for:
- Medical bills, such as doctor bills if the assault caused personal injury
- Relocation expenses if the assault forced your family to move
- Emotional pain and suffering
Sexual abuse cases typically include non-economic damages, like pain and suffering. These types of damages do not have a set monetary amount. Financial awards can help you and your family pay for treatment and bills, giving you time and resources to heal.
For a free legal consultation with a Clergy Abuse Lawyer serving Irvine, call (800) 794-0444
Protecting Yourself, Your Family, and Your Community
Unfortunately, predators often repeat the behavior. Recurring sexual abuse is also likely to occur when an organization protects them. It is not unheard of for a religious sect moving a clergy member from one institution to another.
Your lawsuit can help protect others from experiencing the same trauma you or a loved one experienced. An injunction is a type of court order that forces the party to act as instructed.
For instance, the Catholic Church has had a policy that religious personnel report abuse to their superiors and not local law enforcement. An injunction could require church leaders to tell the proper authority.
California courts allow you to request civil harassment restraining orders against someone who has sexually assaulted you or a loved one. A restraining order can stop the predator from coming near you, your loved ones, and your house of worship.
Irvine Clergy Abuse Lawyer Near Me (800) 794-0444
How Abuse Lawyers Help
Evidence strengthens sexual abuse lawsuits. An Irvine clergy abuse lawyer investigates cases to find proof of the abuse. This can include:
- Documentation of frequent moves, possibly indicating prior abuse
- Testimony from the victim, witnesses, and medical and mental health professionals
- Photographic documentation
- Medical records illustrating assault
Facing your abuser alone can be daunting. Having a legal professional on your side can help you make them pay for their actions. Pintas & Mullins Law Firm will fight on your behalf and seek compensation for sexual abuse at the hands of the clergy. Call us at (800) 219-9622 to get started.