Children raised in the church learn how priests and other spiritual leaders are people to look toward for advice and guidance. This faith allowed clergy members to get close to their victims and “groom” them for abuse. Because of their position as men of God, no one gave a second thought to trusting them around children. When they sexually abused these children, they took advantage of the trust placed in them by their victims and families.
For nearly 20 years, thousands of survivors have come forward alleging child sexual abuse by members of the Roman Catholic Church. According to The Washington Post, almost four times as many allegations surfaced in 2019 as in the previous five years combined. Evidence also points to the fact that the church helped to hide abuse and protect perpetrators in many instances.
Children who have suffered from sexual abuse can experience negative physical and mental consequences into adulthood. If you are a survivor of child sexual abuse by a priest or other religious leader, a South Carolina clergy sexual abuse lawyer can help you pursue justice. Though it cannot take away the harm you have suffered, compensation for your abuse could help you move forward in your recovery. Reach out today to Pintas & Mullins Law Firm at (800) 219-9622 to discuss your legal options with a team member.
Charleston Joins List of Dioceses Releasing Names of Accused Priests
Following in the footsteps of dioceses across the country, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charleston released in 2019 the names of 45 South Carolina priests accused of sexual abuse. The list includes allegations against priests going back to the 1940s and does not contain six priests for varying reasons.
Some of the priests on the list face accusations of crimes ranging from committing lewd acts to molestation or taking nude photographs of children. None of the priests still serve within the church—some have died, and the church has lost track of others. However, survivors of clergy sexual abuse can still stand up to the church for failing to protect victims.
Survivors of all ages and gender have come forward with claims, and not all accused abusers served in the Catholic Church. Sexual abuse encompasses more than just rape. Any unwanted sexual touching or sexual coercion is abuse, including lewd sexual comments or even exposing a child to pornography. If you believe a clergy member sexually abused you, you can seek help from the team at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm. Call today to get started.
You Do Not Have to Suffer in Silence
Psychology Today explains how some survivors of child sexual abuse do not speak about their experiences for many years, if ever. Survivors often have feelings of guilt, shame, and self-blame that cause them to keep quiet about their abuse into their adulthood. These emotions can feel even more severe if the perpetrator was someone you trusted.
Some survivors may not remember what they have experienced until something triggers their memories. Psychology Today offers many reasons why this might happen. Victimized children may not recognize sexual abuse for what it is until they are adults. Survivors may dissociate from the traumatic memories of their abuse, be in a state of denial, or fear the consequences of disclosing their abuse. In some instances, they might have hazy memories because their abuser plied them with drugs or alcohol.
The law recognizes these obstacles to pursuing justice. South Carolina, like most states, extends its statute of limitations for cases of child sexual abuse. SC Code § 15-3-555 gives survivors six years after they turn 21 to file a claim in civil court. In cases where survivors have repressed the memory of their abuse, the law allows three years from the time they discover the child sexual abuse that caused their injuries.
You can stand up to your abuser and the institution that might have helped shield his actions. If you have suffered from clergy sexual abuse, a South Carolina clergy sexual abuse lawyer can help you make your voice heard. They can advise you whether the statute of limitations has run out on your case.
Child Sexual Abuse Can Cause Serious Physical and Mental Illnesses
For many, child sexual abuse has consequences that reach into adulthood. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), survivors can battle a lifetime of anxiety and depression. They have a higher chance of struggling with addiction, eating disorders, self-harm, and obesity.
Survivors can experience chronic gynecological problems and sexual dysfunction, and they often engage in risky sexual behavior. The mental and physical effects of abuse might make it difficult for survivors to hold a job or form meaningful relationships.
You Might Be Entitled to Compensation
Monetary awards cannot make up for the pain you have suffered, but a settlement can help you pay for therapy and other services to help you heal from the trauma you have endured. You may also receive compensation if you have medical bills for any other treatment related to your abuse.
A South Carolina clergy sexual abuse lawyer can help you seek awards for the years of mental anguish your abuse might have put you through. A jury might also award you punitive damages to punish the church for its role in covering up abuse and allowing abusers to continue in the priesthood. Taking your abuser to court could also give you a sense of justice and empowerment.
Pintas & Mullins Law Firm Can Help
The prospect of coming forward and facing the church after so many years may seem scary. A South Carolina clergy sexual abuse lawyer can advocate for you and your interests through every step of the process. At Pintas & Mullins Law Firm, we have more than 50 years of combined experience helping victims. Our team looks forward to fighting for justice and compensation for you. Call us today at (800) 219-9622 for a free, no-obligation consultation.