An abuse by clergy lawsuit claims that a person suffered sexual abuse at the hands of a priest or other clergy. Attorneys David P. Matthews and Julie Rhoades (of Matthews & Associates) have been prosecuting priest sex abuse cases since 2004. If you were sexually abused by a Catholic priest or another trusted elder, contact our law firm for a free, confidential consultation regarding a potential civil lawsuit.
Pennsylvania Priests Abused 1,000+ Kids
A Pennsylvania grand jury report released in August 2018 has focused the nation’s attention anew on the Catholic church’s systemic problem of sex abuse by parish priests. The jury had convened for two years. It examined half a million pages of church documents and interviewed dozens of people who reported being abused by priests. The jury concluded that 300 Pennsylvania priests abused more than 1,000 kids dating back to the 1940s. The grand jury said the real number of child victims is more likely in the thousands. The jury also lamented that the statute of limitations has apparently tolled for most of the priests’ victims; but recent court developments across the U.S. may allow many priest-abused people in Pennsylvania and other states to finally have their day to seek justice in court.
Related: Pennsylvania Priest Abuse Lawsuit
Pennsylvania may follow Minnesota and other states in allowing clergy abuse victims a new grace period in which to file their claims.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court
The Pennsylvania legislature is considering a change of law similar to what Minnesota and other states have enacted to allow victims of priest abuse and other child sex abuse a longer grace period in which to file their claims. Many states have begun to recognize that victims of child sex abuse often deny their own victimization, even for decades. Child sex abuse victims often do all they can to bury the horrors visited upon them by priests and other trusted elders. Consequently, it may take a victim decades to reach the point of being able to file a claim.
$210 Million Settlement for 450 Clergy Abuse Victims
NPR reported on June 1, 2018 that the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis reached a $210 million settlement agreement with 450 victims of clergy sexual abuse.
AP reports that the $210,290,724 total is thought to be the second-largest payout by the Catholic church in the U.S. It came after nearly four years of bankruptcy proceedings and negotiations.
Archbishop Bernard Hebda told priest-abuse survivors at a news conference:
“I recognize that the abuse stole so much from you. Your childhood, your safety, your ability to trust and in many cases your faith. Relationships with family and friend relationships in your parishes and communities were harmed. Lives were forever changed. The church let you down. I am very sorry.”
The victims’ lawyer said, “As a result of these survivor’s courage, there have been 91 clerical offenders in the archdiocese now exposed and listed as credibly accused offenders that had never been listed and exposed before.”
New Law alters Child Sex Abuse Case SOL
The Minnesota lawsuit became possible after Minnesota passed the Child Victims Act in 2013. That law opened a three-year window which lifted the statute of limitations for child sex abuse victims to report new cases. The legislative change ultimately led to hundreds of new victims filing claims against institutions including the Catholic church.
Pope Francis apologizes to Victims, admits Church Failed Them
(August 20, 2018) AP reported that Pope Francis vowed that “no effort must be spared” to root out priest sex abuse and cover-up from the Catholic Church. But the pope gave no indication that he would sanction complicit bishops or end the Vatican culture of secrecy that has allowed the crisis to fester.
The pope wrote a letter to Catholics worldwide following the damning new revelations of misconduct in Pennsylvania. Pope Francis sought to project a get-tough response to the perpetrators and a compassionate shoulder for victims ahead of a fraught trip to Ireland this weekend.
Pope Francis begged forgiveness for the pain suffered by victims. He also said that lay Catholics must be included in the effort to root out abuse and cover-up. He did criticize the clerical culture that has been blamed for the crisis, with church leaders more concerned about their own reputations than the safety of children.
“We showed no care for the little ones,” Francis wrote. “We abandoned them.”
Church “Superiors” go Unpunished
But Francis offered no indication that he would change the Vatican’s longstanding practice of giving church superiors immunity when they cover-up abuse cases or are negligent in protecting their parishioners.
AP reported that the pope’s letter was viewed by sex abuse survivors as little more than recycled rhetoric that fails to acknowledge the Vatican’s own role in turning a blind eye to predatory priests and fomenting a culture of secrecy that has allowed crimes to go unpunished for decades.
“That culture was overseen by #Vatican & codified into its laws,” tweeted Colm O’Gorman, a prominent Irish abuse victim who is organizing a solidarity demonstration of survivors in Dublin during Francis’ planned visit this week. “He needs to name & own that.”
Marie Collins, another prominent Irish survivor who resigned in frustration from the pope’s sex-abuse advisory commission, said statements about how terrible abuse is and how bishops must be held accountable are meaningless.
“Tell us instead what you are doing to hold them accountable,” she tweeted. “That is what we want to hear. ‘Working on it’ is not an acceptable explanation for decades of ‘delay.’”
Abuse by Clergy Lawsuit – Free Legal Consultation
Matthews & Associates Law Firm is working to hold predatory priests accountable for their crimes against children. Contact us for a free, confidential case evaluation if you or someone your love was abused by a priest or another elder. We work on a contingency fee basis, getting paid only if we are able to recover compensation for our client.