Some news publications feature stories of sexual abuse victims who revealed their suffering throughout childhood from decades ago. In recent years, victims and accusations between members of the Catholic Church surfaced, resulting in criminal charges and legal battles. However, child sexual abuse is still a problem in the state, regardless of religious affiliation. In 2018, a total of 3,763 children were victims of sexual abuse, according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS).
Victims of sexual abuse can work with a lawyer to report crimes and get help with navigating the legal process. The lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm are available for a free consultation to evaluate the cases of victims as needed. Contact us now to speak with a member of our team about working with a Montana clergy sexual abuse lawyer by dialing (800) 219-9622.
About Sexual Abuse by Clergy and Professional Leaders
Abuse can happen in or out of the Catholic Church, or any other place where one person holds a position of power over another. For children, this can be almost anywhere, which is why they are so strictly protected by the law. Some sexual abuse cases from years ago only now being prosecuted.
In part, this is due to the extensive statute of limitations for different sexual abuse crimes against children. The statute of limitations for such criminal violations tend to be long, due to the seriousness of the crime. Of course, anyone who suspects they have a sexual abuse case should seek legal help as soon as possible but may have viable options for a lawsuit years after abuse happens.
In situations where children meet with adult members of the clergy privately for education, mentorship, and more, adults are responsible for providing a safe and stable environment for the child. It can be difficult to know when child sexual abuse is a problem, especially because there is a good chance that the victim knows or has reason to trust the adult. Ninety-one percent of child sexual abusers are known by the child or their family, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Defining Child Sexual Abuse
Understanding the legal precedent around child sexual abuse in Montana is helpful for navigating situations that could involve criminal charges. According to the CDC, child sexual abuse:
- Involves someone less than 18 years old who cannot fully comprehend, give consent, or be developmentally prepared for sexual activity.
- Must be reported when information is received in a professional or official capacity, such as a physician, nurse, teacher, member of the clergy, or another legal guardian.
- Can be suspected based on “a perceived present real harm or a perceived present imminent risk of harm.”
With this foundational information about child sexual abuse, victims may be able to self-evaluate their personal circumstances. However, these sorts of cases are best handled by someone with knowledge of Montana law and procedures.
Working with a Montana clergy sexual abuse lawyer can completely ease the burden of navigating this difficult type of case alone. The most important thing to do if you suspect child sexual abuse is to help victims out of immediately dangerous situations and begin the formal filing process for civil and criminal charges.
Legal Options for Clergy Sexual Abuse Victims
Criminal behavior can be reported to Montana officials, like the Sexual Violence Prevention and Victim Services. A lawyer can help facilitate the process, helping with gathering evidence, contacting witnesses and experts for testimony, and act as an adviser throughout the process. Other legal options include filing civil court cases for compensatory and punitive damages.
After a traumatizing event like child sexual abuse, victims will need support from various medical professionals, which can easily result in accumulating expensive medical bills. Victims may seek therapeutic treatment, mental health counseling, and other emotional support services. For victims of physical violence and sexual abuse, the cost of recovery can include emergency physical evaluations and treatments. For victims under 18 that experience abuse and have a job could be entitled to compensation if the abuse led to missed days of work, or missed opportunities to work. State and federal laws are meant to protect victims who may not have full physical, emotional, or financial independence.
Building Your Case
A Montana clergy sexual abuse lawyer can build a case that protects and defends the rights of child sexual abuse. The discovery process for civil legal pursuits starts as soon as you contact a lawyer. The burden of a plaintiff who seeks a settlement for a sexual abuse case is to prove the negligent and abusive behavior of an adult who was responsible for their safety at the time. This type of child-adult relationship can often be found in organizations like religious gatherings, camps, schools, college, youth clubs, sports teams, and more. Lawyers can seek evidence from clients, witnesses, and experts to assert the stance of a victim.
Overall, victims of sexual abuse should not wait to seek legal help. A lawyer can evaluate and develop a case that protects and defends the interest of vulnerable sexual abuse victims.
Work with a Lawyer To Navigate Abuse Litigation
Victims of abuse in a clergy or organizational setting might feel too intimidated to initiate legal action against perpetrators. However, a lawyer can use the facts of these difficult cases to approach a victim’s needs with a logical perspective.
See what a Montana clergy sexual abuse lawyer at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm can do for you by dialing (800) 219-9622.