Clergy abuse has been a problem for a long time, but since 2002, law enforcement and other agencies have pushed to address the abuse and cover-up within the Catholic Church, according to Reuters. Although much has changed over the last 20 years, there are still thousands of victims coming forward to report abuse and the cover-up of abuse.
The public’s understanding of clergy abuse has also changed significantly since people realize it is no longer a problem just for young girls. People know that the abuse extends to young boys and adults as well. Some victims do not report their abuse until well into adulthood, if they report it at all. Organizations around the world are pushing the Church to hold itself and clergy accountable while making reforms and facing the consequences of its actions. The victims of clergy abuse have more support now than at any point before, and some victims are taking advantage of that fact to hold their abusers accountable.
If you or a loved one is the victim of clergy abuse, now is the best time to come forward and hold your abuser accountable. Consulting a lawyer provides one way to better understand your legal options. You have the right to hold your abuser accountable and collect compensation for their actions. Call Pintas & Mullins Law Firm at (800) 794-0444 to discuss your potential case with us.
What Percentage of Catholic Priests Have Been Accused of Abuse?
One of the leading problems in addressing abuse within the Catholic Church is that an unknown number of abuse cases remain unreported. This makes it difficult to track how many cases there are and how effectively the Catholic Church is addressing the issue. There are organizations that attempt to track all of the filed cases, including all of the accusations and legal proceedings.
These organizations are able to track cases across the country and around the world, as this has become a global problem. The difficult part of this is that the sources vary in accuracy and what they include. For example, the Archdiocese of New York maintains a list of thousands of priests that have been accused of abuse. The Church publishes this list, leading some to believe that there may be more abusers that the list may not mention, even if someone reported the name of an abuser.
There are reports that indicate that the number of priests credibly accused of child abuse should be higher than the estimates. A New York Times story reported that in just one state, Pennsylvania, more than 300 priests abused children over a 70-year period. While it is impossible to capture the exact number of cases and abusers, the scope of the cases that have come to light gives a frightening estimation.
The number of priests that were accused of abuse increased in 2002 when the Boston Globe released a series of reports that identified priests accused of child abuse. The report took nearly a year to write and led to major changes in how the Church handled abuse cases. While this list was extensive and the number of accused priests continued to rise, the number of prosecutions did not move in step with it. The legal system took time to catch up to the changes, and there are still priests that have not faced prosecution.
Several organizations have been able to collect information about priests accused of abuse, and the results largely show that those priests no longer hold their positions. Furthermore, it shows that the social pressure on the Church to correct these problems is beginning to take its toll. While these accused priests faced termination, some of the administrators who knew of their conduct remained in their positions without challenge.
How Many Priests Have Been Prosecuted for Child Abuse?
While the number of priests that have been accused of child abuse is high, not all accusations turn into prosecutions. This is partly because of the stress that it puts on victims and the Church’s cover-up of the abuse. For much of the time between the 1950s and 2000, the Church successfully covered-up child abuse. If a victim does not come forward and identify an abuser, that abuser may escape investigation.
Despite these efforts, more priests have been prosecuted in the last three decades thanks to changes in how the Church and law enforcement handle these cases. For example, a New York Times article in 2018 named 300 priests credibly accused of abuse, leading law enforcement to take a more aggressive stance on child abuse cases. There are mandatory reporting policies and laws within the Church, as well as zero-tolerance policies from law enforcement agencies.
While there have been improvements, there are still significant problems in prosecuting clergy. One of the reasons for this is the statute of limitations on filing abuse lawsuits. The statute of limitations restricts how long victims have to file lawsuits against their abuser. In some cases, this limitation may be too short. Most victims struggle with the idea of reporting their abuse, as well as the notion that they can sue their abuser in civil court, too. Some of the victims that come forward do not do so until well into adulthood. Unfortunately, they make this decision beyond the end of the statute, preventing them from filing a lawsuit.
Some parts of the country are working to fix this problem by extending the amount of time that victims have to report abuse and file a lawsuit. For example, the New York State Senate passed the Child Victims Act, which extended the statute of limitations to allow victims up to age 50 file abuse lawsuits. For victims that have been hiding what happened for so long, it was a chance to finally step forward. Further actions like these are happening around the world to give victims the support that they need.
The total number of priests that have been prosecuted is unclear, but the number is growing thanks to efforts by multiple groups. If you or a loved one were the victim of clergy abuse, you can consult a lawyer to see what your legal options are. Reporting your abuse is just the first step, and a lawyer can guide you through the process of seeking compensation and holding your abuser accountable. Contact Pintas & Mullins Law Firm at (800) 794-0444 to discuss your case and see how a clergy abuse lawyer can help.
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How Many Priests Have Been Convicted in New York?
New York has one of the largest collections of Catholic churches in the country. It has also seen one of the highest rates of clergy abuse within the Church.
As pressure on the Church mounted, it faced the need to change its internal operations. There has been a cover-up of abuse for decades, creating a major problem that became unavoidable. Changes reaching all the way up to the Vatican instituted mandatory reforms that are still in place.
One of the biggest changes is that priests and church leaders have mandatory reporting requirements. Like teachers, they are required to report any accusations of abuse to the church leadership and the police. This is an internal church policy, but some locations have passed laws duplicating the policy so that the Church cannot circumvent it.
Another positive change is the removal of clergy that are involved in abuse or a cover-up. Before, the Church used to shuffle accused priests to new locations, making it difficult for law enforcement and victims to pursue legal action. Then, it was easier for the Church to cover-up the abuse. Now, the Church has a policy of removing the priest from all responsibilities and activities during an investigation. Hiding the abuse is much more difficult and the Church is more proactive in addressing accusations rather than hiding them.
The Church has even started identifying priests that have been accused as a way of improving transparency. In 2019, the Archdiocese of New York released a list of 120 priests that were accused of child abuse. This list was compiled by the Church as a means of restoring faith and trust in the Church throughout the community. The priests on the list were ones that the Church believed were credibly accused, though.
While this was a major step forward, it came with several issues. The list only consisted of priests and ignored other clergy members, for example. This eliminated anyone above the priest level, which were the people that committed abuse in prior years before being promoted and excluded anyone at a higher level who participated in a cover-up. The Church also got to define the rules for being on the list, so it ignored anyone that was accused but did not meet the Church’s strict credibility guidelines. This left several accused priests off of the list, representing a number of accusations much smaller than it actually was.
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How Much Has the Catholic Church Paid in Settlements Worldwide?
One of the few facts about abuse in the Catholic Church that is easy to determine is how much the Church has paid in settlements around the world. Many of the organizations that have appeared in the last two decades around the Church abuse scandals effectively compile information from around the world on Church-related cases. What they have found is that the Catholic Church has already paid more than $4 billion in settlements with more expected for pending lawsuits, according to the Associated Press.
A settlement is an agreement by the defendant and the plaintiff to end the lawsuit by meeting certain terms. In some cases, it is a cash settlement that ends the lawsuit. Rather than having the civil cases filed against the Catholic Church go to trial, the Church offered settlements to address the cases. Some large organizations do this since trials can create bad press for them. In return for a cash settlement, they may require victims to sign a non-disclosure agreement stating that they will not discuss the incident publicly.
It is also important to note that some civil cases do not make it to trial. Trial dates take a long time to schedule in the court system. This is because most judicial systems are backlogged with cases. Rather than waiting for a long-time and risking a bad outcome with the trial, the Church may offer enough compensation in a settlement to convince victims to end the lawsuit. This also appears to turn out well for victims that are worried about going to trial. The stress, financial costs, and ongoing problems that a trial brings into their lives can be difficult for victims to withstand, especially over a period of months or years. There is nothing wrong with taking a settlement.
In any case, you do not have to agree with a settlement until you have a lawyer assess it. Settlement agreements can be tricky to understand based on how defendants write them. The first agreement might not offer enough compensation to cover the expenses. Abuse victims often have difficulty working, making a living, or paying for the services that they need. A lawyer can extrapolate the long-term cost of those expenses and help their client determine an appropriate amount for the settlement. Then, a lawyer can renegotiate the settlement to ensure that it is enough for the victim’s losses.
How Many Catholic Priests Were Accused in 2018?
When researching how many Catholic priests have been accused, there are several landmark cases to consider. The latest case happened in 2018. After the 2002 Boston Globe report that identified multiple priests in abuse cases, several organizations began researching abuse in the Church. Even law enforcement increased its efforts leading to a successful case in Pennsylvania.
Because of the extent of the abuse within the Church, some of the victims’ cases were compiled into larger proceedings, or class-action lawsuits. One of these cases was delivered in Pennsylvania by the grand jury, which led to indictments for some of the priests involved.
In 2018, there was a major case involving priests in the Catholic Church. The Pennsylvania grand jury delivered a case that implicated 300 clergy members. This is one of the largest cases for accused priests and shocked people that after so long, such high levels of abuse could still continue.
Until this point, the number of priests that had been accused of child abuse across the country had stayed below a certain threshold. This is why so many people were surprised when this case was finalized.
Further research also showed that there was a problem with the priests that had been accused: law enforcement failed to monitor them to any measurable degree. Some of the priests had been removed from their Church duties; however, they moved on to other positions that put them near potential victims. Some of the priests worked in child care, education, counseling, nursing care, and other positions where they have access to children. Anyone accused of child abuse should not enter those positions to prevent problems with other potential victims.
In total, there were more than 4,000 clergy members accused of sexual abuse and child abuse across the country, according to BBC News. Most of those accused were identified in 2018 and 2019. This shows that the number of abusers in the Church is far higher than anyone expected. It also shows that rates of priests being accused are rising rapidly. This is a big difference from the previous decades when it was easier to hide the abuse and have the Church cover it up.
Now, more than ever, there is support for victims of abuse to come forward and help hold their abusers accountable. If you or a loved one is the victim of clergy abuse, consult a lawyer to see what your legal options are. Contact Pintas & Mullins Law Firm at (800) 794-0444 to discuss your options and see how a clergy abuse lawyer may handle your case.
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How Many Priests Have Been Defrocked?
Many people want to see the priests that have been accused of child abuse punished. While the Church does not have control over the legal process, it does have an internal process that it can use: defrocking. Defrocking is a means of removing clergy from the Church entirely. It, essentially, strips away a priest’s credentials, position, and ability to be involved with the Church in any way. The Church cannot have a priest legally punished but can choose to cut ties with a priest for violating moral codes and Church doctrine.
The Vatican implemented strict rules regarding child abuse and reporting. All clergy is required to report abuse to law enforcement and the Vatican as soon as possible. This gives the Vatican the ability to monitor the situation and determine a course of action. It also gives the Vatican the best access to statistical data about the internal workings of the Church.
In 2014, the Vatican reported on the number of priests that had been defrocked because of their involvement in one of these cases. CBS News reported a total of 848 priests had been defrocked for child abuse-related reasons. While this seems like a relatively small number for a worldwide organization, it takes into account the severity of the cases that were reported. More than 3,400 cases had been reported directly to the Vatican between 2004 and 2014. Of those 3,400 cases, 848 led to defrocking while another 2,572 received other punishments. It shows that the Vatican is taking this problem seriously.
Defrocking may be a major step in holding priests accountable, but the lawsuits are affecting the Church as a whole. Vatican City is its own City-State placing it on the level of a small country. It even has UN representation, which can lead to greater issues for the Church. Torture is an internationally recognized crime and does not have a statute of limitations in most parts of the world. Many experts and political leaders include child abuse as a form of torture, which the Vatican’s UN representative did not deny. This may lead to further lawsuits since any victim can file a lawsuit at any time without time restrictions.
Defrocking, also known as laicization, has a long tradition in the Catholic Church. It has changed significantly over the past few centuries into a gentler version of punishment; however, it still has deep religious implications and can have major social implications for priests as well.
How Much of Spotlight is True?
Spotlight is a movie from 2015 about the 2002 Boston Globe reports that started the child abuse reforms in the Catholic Church. Spotlight is a reporting team for the Boston Globe that focuses on stories that take a long time to research and report. The team started its research in 2001 after receiving a lead on a story about priests that had been credibly accused of child abuse that the Church covered-up. The movie is named after the team at the Boston Globe.
The movie begins in 1976 when Fr. John Geoghan is arrested for child molestation. A higher-ranking member of the Church manages to get the case covered-up and the arrest hidden. Geoghan goes on to move up in the Church while continuing to molest young boys.
Moving forward to 2001, the team gets a new editor and a lead that priests are abusing children and the Church is covering it up. After talking to the source of the lead, they find that their search is too small and expand the number of priests being investigated. The team wins court cases to have documents unsealed and also finds new evidence on their own, pointing to the abuse and the cover-up. They released a report in 2002 with subsequent follow-up reports over the next few years.
This report makes the public aware of the greater problems happening in the Church. Five priests are arrested, confess, and are convicted, including John Geoghan. The team’s effort starts the process of uncovering everything that the Church has been trying to hide, leading to two decades of changes for victims and the legal system.
The movie was well-received by the public, critics, most of the people represented in the movie, and even Church leadership. The movie highlighted the systemic problems in the Church and amplified the call to punish the abusers and end this pattern of abuse.
The movie was hailed as largely accurate, though the timeline of some events was condensed to save time. For example, some of the key events depicted later in the movie actually happened after the Spotlight team published its article at the end of the movie.
Some of the key points near the end of the movie actually happened well after the first report was released. For example, the priest confessions happen differently and all happened in a much later time frame then than that movie suggests.
If you or a loved one is the victim of clergy abuse, consult a lawyer to see what your legal options are. There are steps that you can take to seek compensation and hold your abuser accountable. Contact Pintas & Mullins Law Firm at (800) 794-0444 to see if you have a case.
What Should I Do if I or a Loved One Suffered from Clergy Abuse?
If you or a loved one suffered from clergy abuse, then you have the option to consult a lawyer. You have legal options to seek compensation and to help hold your abuser accountable. Partnering with a clergy abuse lawyer can give you the chance to work out the details of your case and determine which legal steps, if any, are in your best interest. It can also help with the legal process so that you can focus on your recovery,
If the abuse is recent, contact the police as soon as possible. Law enforcement can investigate the accusations, but there are limits to how long they have to do this. If the statute of limitations, the legal limit to filing lawsuits and investigating crimes, runs out, then it may not be possible to hold your abuser responsible. Setting up a civil case can take time, as well.
While you are working through all of this with a lawyer and the police, seek mental health support where you can. Abuse of any kind can have a profound effect on how you live your life. Mental health services, such as counseling or support groups, can help you manage these changes and promote a level of recovery that is much harder to achieve without support.
It is important to note that it may be possible to file a lawsuit even if the statute of limitations has passed. Many places around the world are lifting the statute of limitations for clergy abuse. New York essentially raised it to give victims of past abuse the chance to file lawsuits. It is also possible to win a civil lawsuit, even if a criminal lawsuit is not filed or is not won. Civil and criminal cases are completely separate and not dependent on each other. Civil cases also usually have a lower burden of proof.
Your clergy abuse lawyer can serve as your advocate in the legal system, which can be stressful and difficult for you on your own. Having a lawyer may make civil lawsuits accessible for victims, especially those that have been severely impacted by the abuse. The compensation that you can recover may help with your treatment expenses.
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Clergy abuse is an ongoing problem that has kept survivors from living full and fulfilling lives through no fault of their own. While advancements have been made in stopping the abuse and holding clergy accountable, there are still problems with how these cases are handled. Still, there are legal actions that you can take to potentially hold your abuser accountable. Now is one of the best times to do so since you may have the support from the legal system, the Catholic Church, and other organizations. Victims are more able to speak out about what happened and get the help and support that they need.
If you or a loved one is the victim of clergy abuse, consult a lawyer to get a better understanding of what your legal options are. A civil lawsuit may be an effective course of action for your case. It gives you the chance to recover compensation and to get the financial and mental health support that you deserve to start a recovery. Contact Pintas & Mullins Law Firm at (800) 794-0444. Our clergy abuse lawyers help clients understand how the legal system works, build cases, and seek the compensation that they deserve.