Sexual abuse can happen in any environment, to victims of all ages, committed by people you know, including clergy members. The very people in charge of protecting the community take advantage of their positions of power to dominate and abuse their membership.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), victims generally underreport child abuse. If you or a loved one became a victim of clergy sexual abuse, just know that you are not alone. However, filing a lawsuit against the clergy member and the religious organization can hold them responsible and potentially stop the clergy member from hurting more people.
Contact Pintas & Mullins Law Firm today at (800) 219-9622 to schedule a free consultation with a member of our legal team. The initial consultation is free, and you are under no obligation to work with us. Our Alaska clergy sexual abuse lawyers work on contingency, meaning we only receive a payment if you recover an award.
Factors Impacting Clergy Sexual Abuse
Not all clergy sexual abuse cases are the same. Clergy sexual abuse can impact different populations within the church, both adults and minors, and the risk factors can vary from person to person. These factors include:
- Liturgical laws that prohibit clergy and members from entering a sexual relationship, even between consenting adults.
- Power differences between clergy and congregation members, especially minors.
- Congregants may not feel as if they can refuse sexual advances from clergy leaders.
- Charges can vary from sexual harassment or advances to rape.
- Clergy sexual abuse can continue for years.
- You might be at a higher risk for abuse if you have a history of emotional trauma.
- Feeling that a higher power appointed the clergy leader can make it more likely that victims trust their clergy leaders, despite the abuse.
These are just some of the factors that impact clergy sexual abuse. If you have any questions about the law and how it affects the specifics of your case, you can speak with an Alaska clergy sexual abuse lawyer to receive more guidance about the next steps in your potential case and the legal implications that could impact the outcome.
Alaska Clergy Sexual Abuse Law
According to AK Statute § 47.17.020, clergy members have no legal requirement to report child abuse or neglect, making it more difficult for clergy sexual abuse cases to come to the attention of law enforcement. Sometimes, this means the abuse continues longer than it otherwise would have.
If you decide to file a personal injury lawsuit against your abuser and the religious organization that harbored them, AK Statute § 09.10.065 allows you to bring legal action at any time if the abuse rose to the level of a felony sexual assault or abuse. For misdemeanor offenses, you have three years from when you turn 18 to file, although AK Statute § 09.10.140 could provide you more time.
An Alaska clergy sexual abuse lawyer can help you determine whether you still have time to file a claim against your abuser. Call Pintas & Mullins Law Firm today for a free case review with a team member.
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The clergy member responsible for the abuse may not be the only party you can hold liable for the sexual abuse. You can hold the religious organization responsible if church officials knew about the abuse and did nothing to stop it—or even took steps to cover up the abuse.
In some cases, your sexual abuse was part of a larger pattern of abuse at a church or diocese, where multiple victims suffered at the hand of clergy members. In recent years, many high-profile cases involving the Catholic Church have come to light. However, this does not mean that clergy members of other religious institutions have not committed sexual abuse.
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As a victim of clergy sexual abuse, you could recover awards for injuries related to what happened to you. Compensation could include awards for:
- Medical expenses: If you suffered a physical injury or required a hospital stay due to your clergy sexual abuse, you could recover this type of compensation in a civil lawsuit against the person or organization responsible.
- Counseling expenses: Experiencing clergy sexual abuse typically results in severe emotional and psychological trauma. You might benefit from access to therapy. However, mental health therapy can become quite expensive, but you can often recover an award to reimburse your therapy bills.
- Pain and suffering: If the sexual abuse caused you emotional stress and trauma, you could receive compensation for the pain and suffering you endured. A personal injury lawyer can help you calculate the value of this noneconomic award.
- Punitive damages: In some lawsuits against clergy members and religious institutions, judges and juries have awarded punitive damages to sexual abuse victims to punish the offender and discourage further abuse by others.
This list highlights just some of the possible compensation that you could recover. Depending on your case, you could receive other types of compensation. Every case is different. If you have any questions about what to expect in terms of potential compensation, you can discuss your specific case with an Alaska clergy sexual abuse lawyer.
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Understanding Your Rights
Ultimately, it is your decision whether to file a personal injury lawsuit against the clergy person or organization responsible for what happened to you. A civil case is different from a criminal case. In a criminal case, the city, county, state, or federal government takes legal action against the people responsible. If convicted, they could face jail time or fines as punishment. However, criminal trials do not focus on providing victims with compensation they need to cover abuse-related expenses. Addressing this need occurs during a civil case.
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Contact an Alaska Clergy Sexual Abuse Lawyer to Discuss Your Case
If you or a loved one experienced clergy sexual abuse, an Alaska clergy sexual abuse lawyer could help you navigate the complicated legal process and pursue the justice and compensation you deserve.
Contact Pintas & Mullins Law Firm today at (800) 219-9622 to schedule a free consultation with a member of our legal team. We can answer any questions you may have about the legal process and the next steps you could take. We will not pressure you to make any decision but rather advise you on your possible options.