Sexual abuse committed by members of the clergy is a widespread problem that has received attention from people around the world in recent years. Sexual abuse can have devastating consequences no matter who the perpetrator is, but the feelings of betrayal can be particularly strong when the abuser is a trusted authority figure, such as a religious leader.
Victims of sexual abuse may have their lives irreparably altered in many ways. They may suffer physical injuries because of an assault and may need to seek medical treatment. They may suffer deep emotional scars and may struggle to cope with anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and thoughts of suicide. The suffering can be compounded if family members, friends, and other members of the religious community do not believe their allegations of abuse.
People who have endured sexual abuse may find it difficult to concentrate and may be unable to complete their education and to hold a job. Some survivors of sexual abuse are afraid to even leave their homes. They may have such a profound distrust of others that they isolate themselves, which can add to their psychological and emotional pain.
All of these consequences of sexual abuse can impact victims financially. Expensive bills for medical treatment and mental health counseling, combined with difficulties working and earning a steady income, can cause sexual abuse survivors to struggle to make ends meet.
If you were abused by a religious leader and you have experienced some or all of these devastating effects, a Missouri clergy sexual abuse lawyer may be able to help. An attorney may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against the person who abused you.
A lawyer may also be able to sue the organization that employed the clergy member if it failed to conduct a background check, ignored allegations of abuse, or covered up wrongdoing. Call Pintas & Mullins Law Firm today at (800) 219-9622 to discuss your case with a member of our team.
How an Attorney May Be Able To Assist You
If you were raped, groped, fondled, forced to touch the abuser, made to participate in sexual acts, or forced to watch others engaging in sexual acts, you may be entitled to a financial award to cover your expenses for past and future medical care and mental health treatment. You may also be able to recover compensation for your lost income or lost earning potential and for your pain and suffering.
A Missouri clergy sexual abuse lawyer can investigate and gather evidence to substantiate your allegations of abuse. An attorney may interview you and other people who knew you around the time when the abuse occurred.
Even if no one else witnessed the abuse firsthand, others may be able to provide information that can back up your claims. For example, family members and friends may be able to speak about your relationship with the abuser, your demeanor and the demeanor of the abuser when you were together, changes in your relationship that they observed, changes in your behavior and physical appearance, and conversations that they had with you and/or the abuser. Even if those witnesses had no idea what was going on at the time, the information that they can provide may be able to independently corroborate your allegations.
The team at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm can also investigate the way the religious organization that the abuser worked for addressed (or failed to address) your charges of abuse. We may uncover evidence that your allegations were ignored and swept under the rug. We may find evidence to support your claims that leaders of the religious organization threatened and intimidated you to force you to stay silent.
Our team may discover that the religious institution failed to conduct background checks as required and hired someone with a history of abuse. We may learn that the organization was aware of the individual’s past abusive behavior and hired him or her anyway, or that the institution kept that person employed even after substantiated claims of sexual abuse surfaced.
Contact a Lawyer Today
State laws limit the amount of time you have to file a lawsuit seeking compensation for damages you suffered because of the abuse. Under Mo. Rev. Stat. section 537.046, a victim has ten years to file a lawsuit. Adult victims of sexual abuse have just five years to file a personal injury lawsuit, according to Mo. Rev. Stat. section 516.120.
Even if you have several years remaining before the relevant statute of limitations expires, it may be in your best interest to contact a Missouri clergy sexual abuse lawyer as soon as possible. It can be difficult to collect evidence in cases involving sexual abuse because perpetrators and those who support them often take steps to cover up crimes, such as destroying or hiding evidence. In addition, as time passes, it can become more difficult to locate and interview witnesses. People may forget past events and crucial details because of a mental decline that comes with age or simply because of the passage of time. Witnesses may also move or pass away.
Call Pintas & Mullins Law Firm today at (800) 219-9622 to discuss your case with a member of our staff so we can begin working on your behalf as soon as possible.