Sexual abuse committed by members of religious organizations has exploded into the public consciousness and forced governments across the country to address the issue. In Colorado, the Colorado Sun reported on a 2019 investigation that found that 43 priests in the state’s three Catholic Church dioceses sexually abused at least 166 children since 1950.
The Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC) defines sexual abuse in part as an act that forces others into sexual encounters without their consent. The victims of clergy sexual abuse receive more support than ever, making it easier for them to come forward.
If you experienced clergy sexual abuse, you could take legal action. You can talk to a Colorado clergy sexual abuse lawyer to review your legal options for justice and compensation. Call the offices of Pintas & Mullins Law Firm today at (800) 219-9622 to discuss your case with our team.
Determining liability is an integral part of any personal injury claim. In a clergy sexual abuse case, you can usually hold the clergy member who committed the abuse liable for the impact on your life. However, past events have shown that the clergy member might not have sole responsibility legally for the abuse victims experienced.
Religious organizations have a long history of covering up abuse and neglect. If the diocese or religious organization covered up the abuse or failed to take action once it learned what happened, you could hold other members of the clergy and the organization itself liable.
Colorado Clergy Sexual Abuse Law
According to the Child Welfare Information Gateway, Colorado law mandates clergy members to report instances of child sexual abuse. However, C.R.S. 13-90-107 places limitations on that reporting requirement. If a clergy member such as a priest learns of the abuse through the Sacrament of Penance (confession), that confession remains confidential. The priest can only report the abuse if the person who confessed gives permission.
Courts generally cannot hear from children as witnesses in civil cases, but C.R.S. 13-90-106 makes an exception in civil or criminal proceedings regarding sexual abuse. Certainly, laws regarding clergy sexual abuse lawsuits can seem a bit confusing, and you might find it beneficial to consult an attorney as you consider taking legal action.
Settlement vs. Trial
In the past, many religious organizations tried to protect their image and resolve cases quietly using settlement agreements. A settlement agreement is not inherently bad and can prove beneficial for victims, providing them a sense of closure. However, it is essential to be careful when dealing with a settlement.
Settlement agreements give both sides a chance to negotiate the amount of compensation that a victim will receive and other terms that both parties can agree on. You need to make sure that you do not agree to an amount of compensation that does not adequately cover your current and future needs.
You can work with a Colorado clergy sexual abuse lawyer to negotiate better settlement terms that fully address your needs before agreeing to anything. Call Pintas & Mullins Law Firm today to get started.
Compensation You Could Recover
A civil lawsuit includes claims for different types of compensation, and the claims largely depend on your case. Many lawsuits include claims for things like lost income or reduced earning capacity because sexual abuse victims often have trouble keeping jobs. You can also claim medical expenses, especially mental health treatments like therapy and prescription medicines.
You also could claim for a specific noneconomic damage called pain and suffering. Not every case involves this type of compensation, but it might play a significant role in your lawsuit’s outcome. Pain and suffering compensation tries to address the mental and emotional trauma you experienced because of the abuse. While not based on fixed expenses like medical bills, pain and suffering compensation could provide substantial monetary relief if you have suffered extensive anguish from what you went through.
Understanding Your Rights
As the victim of sexual abuse, you have the right to file a civil case against your abuser and any other party liable for its actions. Doing so can reimburse you for the expenses you incurred related to your abuse. Many victims use a clergy sexual abuse lawsuit as an opportunity to improve their lives and get them back on track to where they might have been if the abuse had not happened. Taking legal action can relieve a lot of physical, mental, and financial stress that you may have experienced. You can discuss your case with an attorney to see what steps you could take next.
Seeking Legal Action
Seeking legal action challenges many abuse victims. They go for decades without talking about what happened to them, leading to unreported cases and abusers never facing any punishment. States have begun recognizing the fear abuse victims feel about coming forward, changing laws regarding reporting practices for mandatory reporters, and extending statutes of limitations for filing lawsuits related to sexual abuse.
C.R.S. 13-80-103.7 establishes a six-year statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits related to sexual abuse against a child. The clock on the statutory period might not start until “after a disability has been removed,” which includes when a victim’s suppressed memories surface.
You might want to consult a Colorado clergy sexual abuse lawyer to determine whether the deadline has passed on your case.
Contact Us Today
Coming forward about sexual abuse is difficult, but victims have more support available to them than ever from law enforcement and government agencies. If you were the victim of clergy sexual abuse, you could start by discussing your case with a Colorado clergy sexual abuse lawyer to determine your legal options. Call the team at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm today at (800) 219-9622 for a free consultation about your case.