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Cleveland Clergy Sexual Abuse Lawyer

Diocese of ClevelandMany Ohio parishioners in the Roman Catholic Church are seeking for answers to understand their purpose in life better and seek healing through the spiritual words of Catholicism. Many in the congregation put their faith in the Vatican, the Pope, local dioceses, bishop, pastor, parish priests, and deacons who provide guidance. Sadly, many clergy members use the power given to them by the Church to abuse and molest minors and vulnerable adults.

Over the last few decades, many of the cases involving sexual molestation committed by priests and deacons shook the foundation of the Catholic Church. Some parishioners had children who were sexually abused and sought help from their church leaders to ensure that the predatory priest was held accountable.

Unfortunately, the Diocese and local Bishop often looked the other way, hid evidence, and sought to protect the priest, while neglecting to help his victims. Only recently have some dioceses in the United States begun setting up a financial compensation fund and papal commissions to protect minors from Church abusers.

Cleveland Diocese Child Sex Abuse Attorneys

It is reprehensible that only a small number of clergy sexual predators have ever been held legally accountable even if the allegations against them were credible. Many times, the parish pastor or Diocese Bishop failed to turn over evidence to local law enforcement to ensure the accusation was investigated.

Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC has long represented victims of clerical sexual abuse to ensure they receive justice and financial compensation to recover their damages. If you are the victim of child sex abuse, we can provide a confidential setting to listen to your horrific story and provide guidance on how to proceed. Let us discuss the result of sexual abuse and all your legal options today to ensure that the sexual predator never hurts another innocent victim.

A Code of Silence

Nearly a decade ago, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child sought answers from the Vatican and the Pope to ensure the predatory priests were removed from active ministry. A news release revealed the Roman Catholic Church’s lack of transparency. For years, Church leaders hid new names of child sex abusers ministering to the congregation in Diocese, child pornography among clerics, and cases of the sexual abuse of minors throughout the United States, including in the Diocese of Cleveland.

According to the United Nations Committee, the Roman Catholic Church has the spiritual responsibility for protecting all the children and vulnerable adults under their care from the sexually inappropriate behavior by clergy. In response, the Church often allowed the molester to remain at his local parish, providing that access to the sexual assault survivor, and other potential victims.

The Catholic Diocese of Cleveland

Church officials for the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland and the Catholic Diocese of Columbus utilize a Child & Youth Protection pledge. The pledge provides an immediate response if your loved one was sexually abused by a clergy member. To report abuse, click here to write to the Diocese’s victim assistance coordinator Kathleen McComb or call her at (216) 334-2999.

The Diocese of Cleveland developed a policy on reporting any accusation of sexual abuse involving minors. It requires Church officials and Bishop Nelson Perez to report the incident immediately to the appropriate public civil authorities and Cuyahoga County prosecutor’s office. The report should include all suspicions or knowledge of the inappropriate sexual activity and child pornography by a member of the clergy.

The report given to prosecutors could include any priest, deacon, seminarian, deacon candidate, volunteer, religious women and men, ecclesial ministers, or employees of the Diocese, parishes, organizations, or institutions involved with the Church. These members are taught the best practices on child safety that teaches them to recognize the apparent signs of abuse and grooming processes to prepare a child for sexual assault.

Survivors of child sexual assault can receive compassionate care from the Diocese of Cleveland. This care includes counseling assistance of the victim’s choosing for the length of time required to heal. The Diocese is to perform criminal background checks on all volunteers, staff members, and clergy who have access to children and vulnerable adults throughout the Diocese of Cleveland, including its eight counties.

The Cleveland Diocese borders Lake Erie in Northern Ohio. The diocese counties include Ashland, Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, Lorain, Medina, Summit, and Wayne. The Diocese manages over 185 churches and 108 Catholic schools, including elementary, middle, and high schools.

Bishop Perez acknowledges the problem as an occasion of profound sadness. The Bishop of Cleveland hopes the release of the names of clerics with credible accusations can start the healing process for those harmed by priests.

Conference of Catholic Bishops

During the initiation of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Charter, they conducted hierarchical investigations of parish priests. The bishops did not have the jurisdiction to investigate other bishops and cardinals that were overseen by the Vatican (Holy See).

However, in recent years, after the allegations arose involving Archbishop Theodore McCarrick of alleged harassment and sexual abuse, the Catholic Bishops began a comprehensive investigation into the case. Every employee of the Church now receives sexual abuse prevention personnel training.

In 2002, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops enacted the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. The Bishops hoped to create a better and safer environment for minors and young people while disciplining predatory priests. Bishops now provide local law enforcement a list of clergy members with credible allegations.

The Charter was designed to ensure accountability for the Church’s failure to protect minors and to provide room for reconciliation and healing of sexual abuse survivors. The Charter hopes to ensure that the response to the allegations made by sexually abused accusers would be useful and prompt. Over the years, the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People has undergone revisions in 2005, 2011, and 2018.

Church Officials Guilty of Intentional Secrecy

Recently, the Roman Catholic Church has been exposed for its years of intentional secrecy that protected sexually abusive priests from local law enforcement, parishioners, and the public. The Church went to great lengths to ensure a lack of transparency, sometimes allowing the predator priests to remain in active ministry in their parish with access to young children and vulnerable adults. Sometimes, the Vatican, under the guidance of Pope Francis, Pope Benedict XIII, and Pope John Paul II, would order the priest to be transferred to another diocese or state and never informed parishioners what had happened.

Less than thirty years ago, the Church’s deceitful actions of hiding evidence involving child sex abuse began showing signs of cracks, finally exposing a worldwide cover-up. Many sexual abuse survivors who were injured by predatory priests stood tall and made strong allegations against those that caused them harm.

Many of these victims told horrific stories involving years of sexual abuse by religious leaders who were to provide spiritual guidance. The result of sexual abuse of a child by a cleric often left the victim facing years of counseling.

The spread of sexual molestation by clergy members in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Cleveland stretched across the state of Ohio into Pennsylvania and other surrounding states. Many of those who were sexually violated by the predatory priest suffered their injuries at Church, in the parish rectory, during sporting events, at a parochial school, at church camp, or other Roman Catholic-related venue.

More Names Added to the Clergy Abuser List

In June 2019, the Cleveland Diocese released an updated list of sexual predators among the Church’s religious leaders with credible allegations of sexual misconduct. The new list contained an additional twenty-two clergy members that included old allegations of priests whose names had been previously removed.

The list was updated by Cleveland Diocese Bishop Perez. Out of the twenty-two names, there are only six that are still alive. Many of the allegations of sexual misconduct happened decades ago. One name on the list included Reverend Anthony Schuerger, who served the Cleveland St Malachi Parish congregation as a long-time pastor.

Church officials placed the priest on administrative leave until the allegation of child abuse could be investigated by the Diocesan Review Board. The independent review board found that Schuerger had been active in ministry at Saint Malachi Church for over two decades.

Nearly all the cases involving predatory priests happen years ago, long passed the expiration of the Ohio statute of limitations. The Grand Jury Report revealed the current status and indictments of eleven religious leaders, including priests and deacons.

Hiring a Diocese of Cleveland Clergy Abuse Lawyer

If you are a victim of sexual abuse harmed by a religious order member of the clergy in the Roman Catholic Church, our dedicated attorneys are here to help. Let us protect your rights through the healing process. Our legal team at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, can discuss the aspects of your case in a confidential setting.

We can provide immediate legal counsel and show you different pathways to ensure you are financially compensated for your damages. Our law firm has already obtained more than $250 million in damages on behalf of our clients. We can help your family too.

We accept all sexual abuse of minors’ cases where the religious leader remains in “active ministry,” on a leave of absence, was removed from the priesthood, already retired, named in a civil litigation lawsuit, or deceased.

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