Aggravated sexual assault, abuse, and misconduct against the members of a congregation–especially minors–is something that crosses dioceses and faith lines and is not restricted to a single group, faith, or demographic. The Catholic Church sits at the center of the child abuse and sexual assault scandals that have engulfed the church in recent years, according to Reuters.
Child abuse cases by clergy members in churches of all denominations–Baptist, Methodist, Catholic, Protestant, and more–occur every year, not just by clergy members by also by members of church staff, volunteers, and other members of the congregation members. This is an issue that can be seen in all faiths. If you suffered abuse of any type, consider a California clergy abuse lawyer with the Pintas & Mullins Law Firm. For legal guidance, assistance, and support, call us at (800) 219-9622.
Clergy Abuse and the Law
California Penal Code Article 2.5 defines the laws surrounding child sexual assault. Clergy abuse has gone on for decades, but it has only been in the last decade or so that an alarming number of reported cases of clergy abuse brought much-needed attention to this social issue. Legislators have made a few changes to antiquated rules–such as the rules that prevent adults from filing claims for sexual abuse if they were victimized when they were children. Changes to legislation can take years, but laws regarding child sexual assault are slowly changing for the better.
Calls for accountability have steadily become louder and harder to ignore, and may victims can now, at long last, take certain forms of civil and legal action against their direct abusers, as well as others complicit in the abuse. Responsible parties may include anyone who facilitated the abuse, turned a blind eye to it, or simply did not report it when they could have done so. Regardless of your religious creed, denomination, or affiliation, you may have the ability to seek justice and compensation for past instances of abuse.
Combating Clergy Abuse
Clergy abuse is not a new occurrence, and there have long been different ways for the abused to seek counseling and help for their injuries and suffering. For example, children’s organizations and non-profits have long recognized the need to give the victims of clergy abuse a voice.
It has only been in more recent years that the issue has started to receive the attention that it deserves. New laws, such as California Civil Procedure Code § 1002 (2016), allow victims to confront their abusers in court, seek compensation for damages, and bring predatory abusers to justice. In the past, there were issues of social stigma and expiring statutes of limitations, but with community and legal support, victims can take the opportunity to heal and get the long-overdue justice they deserve.
What that means for you as a survivor of clergy abuse is that, depending on the specifics of your case, you can first seek criminal charges against your abuser. Regardless of the outcome, you can still seek justice and awards in court.
Legal Assistance for Clergy Abuse Cases
Laws, regulations, definitions, and classifications of different concepts, timelines, and types of abuse continue to change. This is why some victims choose to have a California clergy abuse lawyer assist them throughout the process. We can help you:
- Identify whom you can file a claim against.
- Quantify the damages you may be entitled to.
- Collect the evidence needed to file a criminal or a civil case.
- Get any treatment or therapy that you may need.
- Pursue damages or a settlement as privately and confidentially as possible.
The first step is the hardest, but our team of attorneys wants you to have access to the help, guidance, and legal assistance you deserve to move on to the next phase of life and overcome the traumas and issues of the past.
Why You Should Seek Legal Recourse
There are many different reasons you may want to tell your story and seek awards and compensation for your pain and suffering. You may be seeking closure, or you may simply want the justice you deserve. You may also feel motivated by their desire to prevent abuse from happening to other churchgoers.
If you have recently suffered abuse, it can be very hard to talk about it. Even if you suffered it in the past, there is no right or wrong when it comes to reopening wounds from the past and confronting something that should not have happened. Irrespective of when the abuse occurred, we can handle your case while you focus on your recovery.
Below are some reasons other victims choose to come forward and pursue legal action:
Seeking Monetary Awards
Money cannot heal the scars of clergy abuse, but it can help you pay for treatments if needed. It can cover mental health counseling, therapy, past and future medical expenses, pain and suffering compensation, and statutory or punitive damages. Treatments can be expensive, and according to Mayo Clinic, tests and treatments for abuse can include X-rays, MRIs, lab procedures, and other mental and social screening assessments.
Also known as injunctive relief, this is when a court orders someone to do something. When it comes to clergy abuse, it can take the form of ordering a church to refrain from allowing a clergy member or other perpetrator of abuse from holding a formal office or even participating in church activities to reduce the likelihood of further occurrences of abuse.
Depending on the nature of your case and the evidence available to us, pursuing civil action may help you gain a sense of closure around the traumatic event and help you move on with your life more effectively.
Consider Legal Representation
Determine how a California clergy abuse lawyer at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm can help you seek justice and handle your legal case. Call us today at (800) 219-9622 for a free consultation.