Clergy members have a special responsibility to protect and guide their congregants and provide a safe place to receive advice and comfort. Unfortunately, some clergy members abuse their position of power, especially against the most innocent and youngest members of their congregations.
The psychological damage that results when a clergy member sexually abuses a minor or other members of their congregation has catastrophic and lifelong effects on victims’ lives. These wounds can often result in permanent challenges to relationships and emotional distress.
Victims of clergy sexual abuse have legal options to hold church organizations and clergy members responsible for their actions and abusive behavior. If you were a victim of clergy sexual abuse, consider how a Hawaii clergy sexual abuse lawyer can ensure you receive the justice and compensation you deserve. Call Pintas & Mullins Law Firm today at (800) 219-9622 for a free case review with a team member.
Catholic Church and Clergy Sexual Abuse
The Roman Catholic Church remains one of the largest abusers of congregants of any faith. In Pennsylvania, a grand jury report uncovered more than 300 priests who abused over 1,000 children. The National Catholic Reporter published an interview suggesting that between 2001 and 2010, the Holy See, the governing body of the Catholic Church in the Vatican, investigated over 3,000 priests regarding sexual abuse cases over the previous five decades.
Other Religions and Clergy Sexual Abuse
The Catholic Church does not have a monopoly on the clergy sexual abuse nightmare in the United States. In fact, almost every other faith seems to have serious challenges regarding their clergy engaging in inappropriate and illegal activities with minors and other congregants.
- In 2019, the Southern Baptist Convention reported increasing allegations of sexual abuse claims among its congregants by clergy members nationwide.
- The United Methodist Church reported sexual misconduct by its clergy members against its church community.
- According to the Insurance Journal, the three largest insurance companies that insure most American Protestant churches receive 260 accounts every year regarding sexual abuse of minors by clergy members, church staff, congregation members, or volunteers.
- News reports indicate that Jewish and Muslim religious leaders also have received sexual abuse allegations against their clergy members.
Understanding Sexual Abuse
Many victims of clergy sexual abuse wait decades to reveal their experiences. In some cases, they do so because of misplaced shame or guilt. Other victims do not realize that what they experienced rose to the level of sexual abuse. Sexual abuse does not have to include the actual act of sex—it can merely be a kiss or a touch. A clergy member could abuse a minor child or another congregant in any of the following ways:
- Lewd or lascivious acts
- Indecent exposure
- Sexual threats
- Sexual harassment
- Sexual assault
- Touching with or without clothing without consent
- Viewing pornographic videos or photos
Effects of Sexual Abuse
The effects of sexual abuse by a clergy member often devastate victims, leaving them with permanent psychological damage. Many victims suffering from the aftermath of sexual abuse experience severe depression and anxiety, resulting in sleeping disorders, self-harm, destructive behaviors, substance abuse, and even suicide.
Abused children often become overly sexualized at a young age, leading to challenges with relationships throughout their lives or contracting sexually transmitted diseases at an early age. Additionally, many clergy sexual abuse victims find healthy and meaningful relationships difficult to develop and maintain.
Hawaii Deadline to File a Clergy Sexual Abuse Cases
In recent years, many states enacted legislation to allow victims of clergy sexual abuse to bring cases long after their abuse occurred. The changes in these statutes of limitations laws resulted from the discovery that many victims of clergy sexual abuse wait years, or even decades, to reveal their abuse.
In 2012, Hawaii changed Hawaii Rev. Stat. § 657-1.8 to allow victims to bring a civil case based on sexual abuse until they turn 26 (age of majority 18, plus eight years) or three years after discovering that their psychological injuries resulted from sexual abuse.
You also could file criminal charges against your abuser. In 2014, the legislature removed the statute of limitations under Hawaii Rev. Stat. § 701-108(1) for the following criminal acts:
- First and second-degree sexual assault.
- Continuous sexual assault of a minor under age 14.
If you or a loved one suffered physical or psychological harm due to clergy sexual abuse, a Hawaii clergy sexual abuse lawyer could help you understand how these deadlines impact your case. Call Pintas & Mullins Law Firm today to learn more.
Compensation and Legal Justice for Clergy Sexual Abuse Victims
While no amount of monetary compensation will ever fully make a sexual abuse victim whole again, the court system wants to provide a victim with justice for their victimization at the hands of a clergy member.
In many cases, clergy sexual abuse victims suffer extreme psychological trauma that requires years of expensive therapist visits to address. You could recover awards to reimburse you for these medical bills, as well as other damages such as:
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Future medical expenses
- Punitive damages
Filing criminal charges or a civil claim against a clergy member for sexual abuse can also bring a sense of closure regarding the issue and provide you an opportunity to ensure that the same abuse does not happen to others in the future.
Learn How a Hawaii Clergy Sexual Abuse Lawyer Can Help
If you suffered abuse at the hands of a clergy member, understand that anything you discuss with a Hawaii clergy sexual abuse lawyer will remain completely confidential until you decide to move forward with a legal claim. Call Pintas & Mullins Law Firm today at (800) 219-9622 to determine whether you can file a lawsuit against your abuser and the religious organization that covered up their crimes to obtain the justice and compensation you deserve.