There has been worldwide media coverage of the sexual abuse perpetrated by clergy within the U.S. Catholic Church against innocent children. Although some of these horrendous acts have been made public after years of alleged coverups by the Church’s leadership, it is difficult to know precisely how many children were harmed by those in positions of power within the Church. What is known is that this abuse was not isolated; there have been accounts of sexual abuse of children at the hands of priests, bishops, and even nuns from all over the world.
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC stands behind victims of sexual abuse and fights for their legal rights while protecting their personal privacy. Our law firm is also committed to securing the maximum financial recovery possible on behalf of each victim. If you or a loved one suffered abuse at the hands of an official of a Church, we stand ready to guide you through the recovery process. Complete our case intake form and our attorneys will be in contact with you soon.
Long History of Catholic Church Sexual Abuse
The Catholic Church child sexual abuse scandals are now widely known. However, this abuse was quietly swept under the rug by Church leaders for many decades. It was not until 1981, when a clergy member in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles was accused of sexual abuse of a minor, a crime he later pled guilty to, that these crimes were more thoroughly investigated.
When the case of a priest in Louisiana charged with 11 counts of sexual molestation became headline news, more reports began to surface. In 1998, when the Roman Catholic Diocese of Dallas was reported to have paid a $30.9-million settlement to 12 alleged victims of one priest, the entire world began to take notice.
Since then, thousands of victims have come forward with their stories of sexual abuse at the hands of Catholic Church staff. According to BishopAccountability.org, by 2012 an estimated $3 billion in lawsuits had been settled by the Church for sexual abuse occurring from 1950 to 2012. In a six-year period from 2003 to 2009, more than 1,550 victims received financial settlements from the U.S. church.
The public outcry over these abuses by clergy and other staff members of the Church has prompted many more victims to come forward. Those who suffered in silence for years finally learned they were not alone. These grown adults discovered that their abusers needed to be punished for the cycle of abuse to end. It is the bravery of these victims coming forward who were traumatized at the hands of a trusted priest or other church staff that may have the most significant impact in ending this abuse of children.
Legal Claims and Damages Paid for Church / Clergy Sexual Abuse
$1.4 Million for Three Boys Abused by Catholic Priest
The alleged sexual abuse in this case happened over a two-year period in the early 1980s. The victims were three little boys (all under the age of 11) and the abuser was the same priest. Apparently, others had complained about similar instances of misconduct involving this individual. Whenever this happened, the Church would simply move him into a different position. When this case was finally brought, the Church tried to get it thrown out of court by claiming that the applicable statute of limitations barred the action. The court dismissed this request, reasoning that the defendant tried to conceal its conduct through settlements and other maneuvers, therefore it should not be allowed to escape liability. The boys, now grown men but whose true names were concealed in the case, each received $410,000, $580,000, and $410,000 respectively, for a combined award against the Church of $1.4 million.
Man Obtains $2.95 Million from Church After Repeated Abuse
The facts of this case arose during 2000. The victim was just an eight-year-old boy. He claimed he was sexually abused by the same priest at a church called St. Agatha’s. However, he did not recall the events until several years later due to a repressed memory. His claims were aided by the fact that the Church knew this priest had a history of similar conduct, which should have put them on notice. Yet they still kept him in his duties, employed no supervisory systems, and let him interact with children. In the end, the court allowed the plaintiff to seek punitive damages from the Church for this reason, which are typically only allowed when the defendant acts in a reckless or wanton fashion. Punitive damages are meant to punish a wrongdoer in the hopes of preventing similar abuse. The plaintiff was awarded almost $3 million from the court, an amount that withstood the Church’s appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court.
Former Victim Reaches $1.55 Million Settlement with Church After Abuse
This settlement agreement was reached in 2017 between the Church (St. Bede) and an anonymous plaintiff who was sexually abused over a period of several years by the same priest when he was between the ages of 10 and 13. The Church knew the priest in question had done this before, but took no steps to remove him or to protect the boys and girls who came in contact with this predator every day. The victim here came in contact with the priest when he was an altar boy at the church. The effects of the sexual abuse left him with depression, suicidal thoughts, and PTSD. Ultimately, the Church had to pay him $1.55 million for these damages.
Boy with Special Needs Receives Settlement After Sexual Abuse
The victim in this case was just eight years old. He had special needs and was particularly vulnerable. An adult male volunteer at his church allegedly sexually assaulted and abused him. Lawyers for the boy accused the Church of creating the circumstances that allowed this terrible incident to occur. The Church agree to privately settle the matter for a reported $1.75 million.
Priest and Clergy Abuse Attorneys Who Stand with You
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers understands the lifelong trauma that childhood sexual abuse event can inflict on a person. We are committed to fully prosecuting your case from a civil damages perspective, while also respecting your wishes. Consequently, every case we take on involving Church sexual abuse is handled with the utmost discretion and care. If you were violated by a priest or other Church official, one of our attorneys experienced with sexual abuse litigation can explain your legal options without any cost or obligation on your part. Contact us today.
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