There has been worldwide media coverage of the sexual abuse that has been perpetrated by clergy within the Chicago Catholic Church on innocent children. Although some of these horrendous sexual abuse acts have been made public after years of alleged coverups by the Catholic Church, 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 reported accounts of sexual abuse at the hands of priests, nuns and even bishops from all over the world, including a large number here in Chicago.
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC stands beside victims of sexual abuse to ensure their legal rights, and personal privacy is adequately protected. 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 the Catholic 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 shortly. We are based in Illinois and have relationships with attorneys across the U.S.
Long History Of Catholic Church Sexual Abuse
The notoriety of the Catholic Church sexual abuse scandal is well-known now. However, this abuse was quietly swept under the rug by church leaders for many decades. It was not until 1981 when the Archdiocese of Los Angeles was accused of sexual abuse of a minor, a crime that he later pled guilty to, that these crimes were more thoroughly investigated.
When another case of a priest in Louisiana being 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 twelve victims of one priest, the entire world began to take notice.
Since 1998, there have been thousands of victims that have come forward with their stories of sexual abuse at the hands of staff within the Catholic Church. According to BishopAccountability.org, by 2012 an estimated $3 billion in lawsuits have been settled by the Catholic Church for sexual abuse from 1950-2012. In a six-year period from 2003-2009, over 1,550 victims received settlements from the church in the U.S.
Sexual Abuse In Chicago’s Catholic Churches
The Catholic Church sexual abuse scandal is felt keenly here in Chicago. With over 2.2 million Catholics in Cook and Lake counties, almost 40% of the population is of the Catholic faith. What is more alarming is that, in 2010, a report was released by three advocacy groups that an estimated 60% of the over 350 parishes in Chicago have had sexual abuse allegations. What is even more troublesome is that these are only the publicly reported cases of abuse; many other victims have undoubtedly remained silent.
The public outcry on these sexual abuses by clergy and other staff members of the Catholic Church has opened the door for many victims to come forward. Those who have suffered in silence for years finally are learning that they are not alone. These grown adults have discovered that the injustice of what was done to them as children needs to punish the abuser for the cycle of abuse to end. It is the bravery of these victims that have come forward who have been traumatized at the hands of a trusted priest or other Catholic Church staff members that may have the most significant impact in ending this abuse of children.
Claims and Awards for Church Sexual Abuse
$1.4 Million for Three Boys Abused by Catholic Priest
The alleged sexual abuse in this dispute happened in the early 1980s over a two-year period. The victims were three little boys (all beneath the age of eleven) and the abuser was the same priest. Apparently, other people had complained about similar instances of assault. Whenever that happened, the church would simply move him to another position. When this case was finally brought, the defendant church tried to dismiss it from court by saying that the applicable statute of limitations barred the action. The court dismissed this move for summary judgment. In its reasoning, the court stated that the defendant tried to conceal its conduct through settlements and other maneuvers. It should not be allowed then to escape liability here it held. The boys, now grown men but anonymous in their case, each won. They received $410,000, $580,000, and $410,000 for a combined amount against the church of $1.4 million.
Man Obtains $2.95 Million from Church after Repeated Abuse
The facts of this case arose around the end of summer in 2000. The victim was just an 8-year-old boy. He claimed he was sexually abused by the same priest at 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 Church knew the priest had a history of similar conduct. This put them on notice. Yet, they still hired him, 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. Those are typically only allowed when the defendant acts in a reckless and wanton fashion. They are meant to punish a wrongdoer as opposed to reimbursing a victim in the hopes of preventing similar abuse. The plaintiff obtained almost $3 million and that amount withstood the Church’s appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court.
Man Reaches $1.55 Million Settlement with Church after Abuse
This settlement was reached in 2017. It was struck by the Church (St. Bede) and an anonymous plaintiff. The plaintiff was sexually abused over a period of a few years by the same priest. It occurred when he was between the ages of ten and thirteen. Unfortunately, the Church knew that the priest in question had done this before but took no steps to remove him. It took no steps to protect the boys and girls that were in contact with this dangerous priest every day. The victim here was an alter boy when the events happened. That was how he came in contact with this priest. The effects of the sexual abuse were pronounced. He had depression, suicidal thoughts, and PTSD. All in all, 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 church sexual abuse controversy was just eight years old. He had special needs too and was particularly vulnerable. The events that gave rise to the dispute occurred at a program run by the church. An adult male volunteer allegedly sexually assaulted and abused him. Representatives for the boy targeted the church as well. They blamed both for the creating the circumstances that allowed this terrible incident to occur. The boy suffered damages related to this event as well as costs and other losses. The Church agree to privately settle the matter for a reported $1.75 million.
Chicago Priest & Clergy Abuse Attorneys Who Stand With You
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC appreciates the lifelong turmoil a childhood event can have on a person. While we are committed to fully prosecuting your case from a civil damages perspective under Illinois law, we also work within the confines of your wishes. Consequently, every case involving church sexual abuse is handled with the utmost discretion and care to preserve your wishes. If you were violated by a priest or other church official in Chicago, you should speak to one of our attorneys experienced with sexual abuse litigation without any cost or obligation to evaluate your legal options. Contact us today!
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