Sexual abuse is distressing and painful for those who experience it, even more so when the abuser is someone who the community respects and trusts like a clergy member. Victims are often left with severe mental and emotional anguish that could last a lifetime. However, they do have the right to seek justice and hold their abusers accountable for their misdeeds.
If you or a loved one had to endure unlawful sexual conduct in a religious institution, do not hesitate to speak to an Oregon clergy sexual abuse lawyer. You do not have to go through the ordeal of bringing your abuser to justice alone, and you deserve to have an advocate who will stand up for you. Contact Pintas & Mullins Law Firm today at (800) 219-9622 for a free case evaluation and learn more about possible legal remedies.
Sexual Abuse in Oregon Occurs in Different Forms
When sexual contact or behavior occurs without a person’s consent, it can fall under sexual abuse, according to the Oregon Department of Human Services. Some common examples include sexualized comments and jokes, sexual harassment, inappropriate touching, indecent exposure, rape, and voyeurism. Activities are considered non-consensual when an individual does not have the capacity or has not given an informed choice.
Anyone can be a victim of clergy sexual abuse. Offenders target people of every gender, age, or sexual orientation, so you do not have to feel guilty about a crime you were powerless to stop. However, you have the opportunity to regain some sense of control when you confront the abuse and hold liable parties accountable for their wrongful actions. Reach out to an Oregon clergy sexual abuse lawyer if you wish to know more about your legal position.
What You Can Do After the Abuse
Even if the abuse happened years ago, this should not stop you from exploring your legal options today. Once you are ready to assert your rights, seek a lawyer’s counsel to take the first step toward taking back your power. It is not easy to trust other people after what you have been through, but understand that there are still those who want to support you. The sooner you get in touch with an Oregon clergy sexual abuse lawyer, the sooner you can protect your legal rights.
If possible, avoid having any contact with the abuser or the institution involved. Your attorney will be your advocate and begin with investigating the facts of your case. You can help by recalling and writing down as much as you can about the abuse. Any piece of information or evidence that you may have kept can also aid your case. Your lawyer can attend on your behalf during a criminal case but know that you may still file a civil claim regardless of whether there is a criminal charge.
While a criminal case aims to punish wrongful conduct, a civil case allows you to receive financial compensation to make the healing process easier. You can file a civil lawsuit even before the criminal case has concluded. Nevertheless, it would be prudent to consult with an Oregon clergy sexual abuse lawyer regarding the best course of action. Remember that the final decision is yours to make, and you do not have to proceed with something that you do not agree to.
How Laws Protect Victims of Sexual Abuse in Oregon
At first glance, sexual abuse laws in Oregon can be overwhelming because different sex-related offenses are placed under different categories. However, these laws protect victims of sexual abuse and set the fines and imprisonment terms for those guilty of felonies and misdemeanors. You can find the different kinds of offenses against persons in Chapter 163 of Oregon’s Revised Statutes, including sexual offenses. The standards for a civil claim are generally lower than those for criminal charges. Nonetheless, there are certain benefits to hiring an Oregon clergy sexual abuse lawyer, such as determining if you are qualified to file a civil claim and which damages are appropriate to your case.
An Attorney Can Help You Overcome Challenges in Your Case
Sexual abuse survivors have a right to speak out against the wrongful conduct of clergy members. It is up to you to seek civil damages, but your lawyer can offer valuable support when it comes to the following:
- Identifying defendants
- Calculating the potential value of your claim
- Filing a valid civil suit
- Communicating with other parties
Do not forget that your attorney can represent your best interests and speak on your behalf if you do not wish to make your identity public.
Legal Time Limits
Survivors of clergy sexual abuse heal on their own time and in their way. It can take years before they get over their trauma and become willing to talk about the abuse. Oregon acknowledges that filing a lawsuit may not be possible until a long time has passed. The state stretches the statute of limitations for sexual abuse cases beyond the usual time limit for other kinds of cases, depending on various factors like the victim’s age and whether they were conscious during the wrongful act.
Children who are victims of clergy sexual abuse can bring civil action until they are 40 years of age. If the survivor qualifies as a vulnerable person, the legal deadline is seven years following the date of the incident. Due to the varying statutes of limitations for sex abuse claims in the state, it is best to get professional guidance from an Oregon clergy sexual abuse lawyer. Trying to file a claim past the deadline will likely result in the dismissal of your case.
Representing Your Legal Rights
In the face of a hurtful and life-changing personal situation, you may find it difficult to figure out how to proceed. Pintas & Mullins Law Firm is here to help you get back on track and provide the support you need as you begin to work towards the closure you deserve. Call us today at (800) 219-9622 to schedule a free consultation.