Reports of sexual abuse have plagued the clergy for nearly 20 years, with more survivors continuing to come forward. The Catholic Church has faced scrutiny for allegations of child sexual abuse since the release of the John Jay Report in 2002. Since then, the church has paid survivors billions of dollars in settlements and implemented strategies to prevent and report abuse.
Despite these measures, horrific stories of abuse continue to surface, and survivors from across the country cry out for justice. The Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office rocked the nation when it released an investigative grand jury report that found six dioceses guilty of covering up more than 70 years of abuse. The allegations involved more than 1,000 victims and 300 priests, with many more expected to come forward.
Children raised in the church learn to respect and trust the leaders of their faith. It is tragic and terrible to suffer abuse at the hands of someone you look to for spiritual guidance. Though it cannot completely heal the wounds that abuse inflicts, you can seek justice against those who hurt you. A Pennsylvania clergy sexual abuse lawyer with Pintas & Mullins Law Firm can handle your case with delicacy and compassion. Call our offices at (800) 219-9622 today to speak with our team about how we can help.
Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse Can Suffer Lasting Harm
Survivors of child sexual abuse can suffer physical and emotional health problems well into adulthood, especially if abuse occurred repeatedly or over a long period. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), many survivors feel humiliation and guilt, and they often blame themselves for their abuse, leading to depression and anxiety. Many survivors develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and experience nightmares and flashbacks of their abuse.
These mental health issues can have an impact on survivors’ future relationships and their physical health. They may have trust issues that prevent them from building intimacy with others. Survivors are five times as likely to have substance abuse problems and twice as likely to smoke, become severely obese, or lead an inactive lifestyle.
More About Clergy Sexual Abuse
While the Catholic Church has made headlines for allegations of sexual abuse, this crime certainly is not limited to one religion. Perpetrators can belong to any faith. Sadly, clergy members abuse the trust given them by their victims and families to get close to children. This trust allows them the opportunity to spend time with and “groom” their victims.
Sexual assault can take many forms. Survivors may have suffered from rape, fondling, exposure to pornography, or oral sexual contact. Abusers did not limit themselves to child victims. Teenagers and young adults also suffered abuse at the hands of a faith leader. If you were the victim of any unwanted sexual contact by a member of the clergy, you might consider contacting a Pennsylvania clergy sexual abuse lawyer. Call Pintas & Mullins Law Firm today to get started.
Survivors Might Take Years to Come Forward About Their Abuse
Guilt and shame may prevent survivors from speaking up about their abuse. Sometimes, survivors bury the memory altogether. As a result, many states, including Pennsylvania, “toll” the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse cases. In November 2019, the state extended the statute of limitations even further for victims who suffered abuse as children.
42 PA Cons Stat § 5533 now allows survivors under 18 years of age when the abuse happened 37 years after reaching their 18th birthday to file a lawsuit, meaning they have until age 55 to pursue justice and compensation. Victims who were between 18 and 24 years old when the abuse occurred have until their 30th birthday.
National Public Radio also outlined several other changes signed into law in the November 2019 bills, including the removal of the statute of limitations for criminal charges against abusive clergy members. It also described other recommendations made in the grand jury report that survivors hope will get another look in future sessions.
Pintas & Mullins Law Firm Can Advocate for You
Survivors of child sexual abuse deserve to have their voices heard. If you suffered harm at the hands of a clergy member, you have the right to seek justice. You could receive financial compensation for the suffering you have endured because of your abuse.
The team at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm can help you pursue compensation for emotional and physical suffering. We could help you recover the cost of medical bills, therapy, and future services to restore your mental and physical well-being. In some cases, courts have found cause to award child sexual abuse survivors punitive damages. These damages punish the church and deter it from covering up future instances of abuse.
At Pintas & Mullins Law Firm, our goal is to handle your case with the highest degree of sensitivity. We know abuse can be difficult to discuss, and we want to make you feel as comfortable as possible. We want you to know that you have someone on your side. A Pennsylvania clergy sexual abuse lawyer will support you as you stand up to your abusers and the religious institution that may have covered up their crimes. We want to help you hold those who hurt you accountable and secure awards to help with your future.
We do not want the cost of our services to become another burden. We can take your case on a contingency basis, meaning you pay nothing out of pocket. If you are ready to get started on your case, call the offices of Pintas & Mullins Law Firm at (800) 219-9622. Our team is prepared to listen and assist you in making your voice heard.