Los Angeles Clergy Abuse Attorney
Many people are unaware of the extent to which sexual abuse has plagued the Catholic church. Pope Francis recently acknowledged that 'about two percent' or 1 in 50 Roman Catholic priests worldwide have been accused of child sex crimes.
At Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, our personal injury attorneys are legal advocates to sexual abuse survivors who are harmed by priests, bishops, and other clergy members in religious organizations, including the Roman Catholic Church. We fight aggressively to ensure that our clients receive maximum compensation while seeking justice against the predator and religious institutions.
Call a childhood sexual abuse attorney at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form today to schedule a free consultation. All confidential or sensitive information you share with our legal team remains private through an attorney-client relationship.
Sexually Abused Victims Holding Their Clergy Member Abuser Financially Accountable
In the aftermath of a long history of child sexual abuse by Catholic Priests, some adult survivors have taken the brave step to hold their abusers and church accountable through civil legal action.
The Roman Catholic Church has been hit with a series of lawsuits over allegations that priests sexually abused children in California. These cases may be among the first to come from an unprecedented wave of litigation against the church after a scandal involving hundreds of victims across Pennsylvania.
This statistic comes from a report compiled by the John Jay School of Criminal Justice at The City University of New York (CUNY). However, many believe this is an under-counting because so few victims come forward due to stigma and shame, as well as fear they will be ignored or disbelieved. Victims often feel trapped between their loyalty to their abuser and their faith community.
The Roman Catholic Church's Impact on the Local Community
Many Los Angeles parishioners in the Roman Catholic Church are drawn to the spiritual organization for instruction and guidance provided by a religious leader. The people of God gather to share Holy Communion, hear teachings, and read the Bible to strengthen their commitment to God.
Sadly, clergy abuse in California dioceses and archdioceses is a severe problem that has harmed the community for decades.
Church leaders throughout the United States have gone to great lengths to stonewall all efforts of turning predatory priests over to local law enforcement, which would ensure children and young adults are protected. Many Parish Pastors, Cardinals, Bishops, and other clergy members fail to take appropriate measures after learning that an accused priest among their midst has sexually assaulted innocent young people.
Victims of sexual abuse often never speak out to tell others what happened. Their silence can give more power to the predator priest who might have threatened or intimidated the victim to ensure they stay quiet.
Sometimes, the Archdiocese Review Board will investigate allegations of clergy sexual abuse to determine if there is credible evidence to turn the proof over to a District Attorney's Office or grand jury. If it takes years to investigate, the Court system might drop all charges involving sexual abuse allegations due to the expiration of the statute of limitations.
A Los Angeles Archdiocese Child Sexual Abuse Attorney Can Help
The dedicated attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC have represented many victims of child sex abuse to ensure they are adequately compensated for their injuries. Our law firm has collected over $250 million in court trial verdicts and negotiated settlements on behalf of our clients.
We accept every case through a contingency fee arrangement. This agreement ensures that payments of your legal fees are postponed until after we have successfully resolved your case for financial compensation.
California Lawmakers Give Second Chance to Childhood Sexual Abuse Victims
In October 2019, the state enacted a new California law, starting January 1, 2020, that extends the time that sexual abuse survivors harmed by priests and clergy could pursue justice. Now, clergy abuse victims who were injured decades ago can seek financial retribution from the alleged abusers and the Church if they meet any of the three conditions. Under the assembly bill, victim-survivors of abuse can file a civil abuse lawsuit or compensation claim if:
- The victim is under forty years of age,
- Evidence concerning the abuse has been discovered within the last five years, or
- The statute of limitations extends through a three-year lookback window that begins on January 1, 2020, and ends on January 1, 2023
The newly enacted California law'"three-year lookback window"; removes the time limit involving sexual abuse during those three years. The new addition to the law provides an extra opportunity to cases involving victim-survivors of abuse that could no longer pursue justice passed an expired California statute of limitations.
Now, thousands of clergy sexual abuse survivors assaulted by Catholic priests and other religious leaders have a second chance to pursue justice through a civil abuse lawsuit to ensure that the Cardinal Mahony, the Church, and predator priests are held accountable.
California Catholic Independent Compensation Programs
In May 2019, the Catholic parishes in the State of California established a program to help Los Angeles clergy sexual abuse survivors through financial compensation for their physical injuries. The launch of the Independent Compensation Program for Victims-Survivors of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Priests "will be available to any person who has been sexually abused as a minor by diocesan priests of the participating dioceses, no matter when that abuse might have occurred.” The California dioceses participating in the new compensation program include:
- Archdiocese of Los Angeles
- Diocese of Sacramento
- Diocese of Orange
- Diocese of Fresno
- Diocese of San Diego
- Diocese of San Bernardino
Individuals who allege that they were sexually assaulted by a religious leader in the listed dioceses when they were a minor are eligible to file a claim to receive compensation. Church officials for the Roman Catholic Church say that all cases will be handled confidentially. However, the fund administrator will have the sole discretion of the amount you might receive. Without legal representation, this might reduce the total amount you could obtain.
If you choose to participate in the program, our attorneys suggest you seek legal counsel with a clergy abuse lawyerto assist you in filing a claim to ensure you are fully compensated for your damages. Our law firm has worked with child sexual assault survivors needing assistance to navigate programs in other communities, including Pennsylvania and New York. As your legal advocate, we can assist you in exploring all your available legal options to determine the best path for healing.
Criminal Charges Over Sex Abuse Claims Alleging Clergy Member Molestation
In recent years, the state legislature has changed California law to hold clergy member sexual predators criminally accountable for childhood sexual abuse. However, this prosecution does not apply to past decades of abuse because the new law for clergy sexual assault went into effect in January 1, 2017. The new clergy abuse statute removes any legal limitations on child sex crimes that occur after January 1, 2017.
Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey stated that "it is time for California to make clear that sex crimes committed by anyone against children are reprehensible and immoral.”
These criminal charges hold predators accountable for the physical and mental trauma, including post-traumatic stress disorder, these childhood abuse victims have endured for years or decades.
California Child Victim Act
In 2016, the Governor approved a bill, which went into effect January 1, 2017, to clear the civil statute of limitations for child sex crimes. The previous laws allowed a victim's time limit to file a claim up to their 26th birthday or within three years after the date they discover the abuse.
This new law allows victims of past decades who were involved in Los Angeles Clergy Abuse to file civil lawsuits in state court against the church officials who covered up clergy sexual abuse by priests.
The new clergy abuse statute gives victims eight years from the age of their majority to file a civil lawsuit claiming child sexual abuse in California. In cases where the childhood sex abuse victim was an adult over 18 years of age when the alleged abuse occurred, they have two years to file a claim from the time they knew or should have known what happened.
Los Angeles Archdiocese Bankruptcy Case
The Roman Catholic Church in California filed civil bankruptcy petitions in January 2011 to reach an out-of-court settlement with sex abuse victims. The Roman Catholic Dioceses of San Diego, San Bernardino, and Orange filed bankruptcy petitions in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Santa Ana for a combined $60 million settlement to compensate hundreds of victims whose claims had earlier been rejected by the diocese's Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program (IRCP).
In August 2011, 610 people filed claims with the Los Angeles Archdiocese to seek justice for childhood sexual abuse by clergy members. The Los Angeles Archdiocese claims totaled $660 million in damages, which was reduced to a total of $439 million after subtracting attorney fees and other costs.
In December 2011, the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego filed bankruptcy after it reached a settlement agreement with 144 plaintiffs who filed claims for $198 million against the diocese to compensate child sexual abuse survivors.
The Roman Catholic Diocese of San Bernardino filed bankruptcy in October 2012, after reaching a similar settlement agreement with 86 childhood sex abuse victims. The Archdiocese of Los Angeles claimed $114 million in damages that were reduced to about $85.2 million after subtracting attorney fees and other costs.
The Archdiocese of Los Angeles negotiated a $60 million settlement with about 500 child sex abuse survivors in September 2013, which was reduced to $30 million after subtracting attorney fees and other costs. The second agreement in October 2014 was reached by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange and 509 clergy abuse victims for $100 million, which was reduced to about $59 million after subtracting attorney fees and other costs.
In December 2015, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles agreed to pay a total of $60 million in cash and property settlements for childhood sexual assault claims against 220 priests from the 1950s through the 1980s. Finalized on May 31, 2016, the Los Angeles Archdiocese filed a petition in federal bankruptcy court asking a judge to approve a reorganization plan for its assets after reaching agreements with 508 victims of childhood sexual abuse.
The Archdiocese of Los Angeles has an estimated 17,000 members and 72 parishes that serve more than 2 million Catholics throughout Los Angeles County at 102 parishes, which include Los Angeles, San Fernando, Santa Clarita, Santa Barbara, and Ventura counties.
The official website for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles lists 24 active priests who worked in Los Angeles County parishes or schools during their careers, but it does not include the names of two priests wanted by law enforcement authorities on sex abuse charges.
For decades, the Roman Catholic Church in California had been paying millions of dollars to settle clergy sexual abuse claims by childhood sexual assault victims against local clergy members. Bishop accountability.com and the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) have played a crucial role in informing the public of the church's cover-up.
Predators Grooming Young Children
According to sexual abuse psychologists, many predators, including priests, will groom young children before sexually assaulting them. A predator may befriend a child's parents to gain their confidence and trust, which makes it easier for the predator to lure the young victim away from home with offers of gifts (toys, candy bars, etc.), outings (baseball games, trips to amusement parks, etc.) or special attention (attention given only to the child, etc.). It is believed that the church hierarchy in California had been aware of these tactics and chose to ignore them.
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange was sued in 2003 by a Huntington Beach woman who claimed she was assaulted between 1979 and 1981 by Father Carl Sutphin while he served at St. John the Baptist Church in Costa Mesa. At the time, Sutphin was a member of the Servite religious order and served at St. John's Catholic Church in Fullerton from 1971 to 1975 before being transferred to Huntington Beach's St. John the Baptist Church.
Sutphin died on April 13, 2007, after jumping off a freeway bridge near San Juan Capistrano. He had been living at St. Jude's Retreat Center in San Juan Capistrano, which is run by the order of Servites, also known as the Order of Friar Servants of Mary.
Sutphin was accused of molesting numerous children during his career as a priest at St. John's Catholic Church in Fullerton, St. Anthony's Catholic Church in Long Beach, and St. Joseph's Catholic Mission in San Juan Capistrano. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange paid $5 million to settle lawsuits by 46 childhood sexual abuse victims who accused Sutphin of sexually assaulting them while he was an ordained priest for the church.
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange was sued by a Huntington Beach woman who alleged that Father Carl Sutphin molested her over a two-year period while he served at St. John the Baptist Church in Costa Mesa, beginning when she was about 7-years-old.
In March 2008, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange paid $100 million to settle clergy sexual abuse claims by childhood sexual abuse victims against 54 priests and other church employees. That agreement settled more than 500 cases that had been filed in Orange County Superior Court and was the largest such settlement paid by any diocese, Catholic or otherwise.
Victim-Blaming Shame Can Keep Victims Silent for Decades
Many of the previous cases involving sexual misconduct in the Roman Catholic Church occurred when pastors, bishops, cardinals, diocesan priests, and other religious leaders, including Pope John Paul II and Pope Francis, oversaw providing guidance and supervision.
The Church has hidden evidence involved in many sexual abuse cases for decades. When victims did come forward with a sexual abuse scandal and allegations of misconduct, they often deal with the burden of religious victim-blaming and shame placed on them by the community or congregation.
Legally, anyone with information about clergy sexual abuse must report what they know to the proper authorities to ensure the allegation is investigated. If the case is handled correctly, predator priests are held accountable even if the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, Cardinal Roger Mahony, Religious Order, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, or archdiocesan oversight board is pushing back the defend one of their own.
An independent review board might find that an alleged sex offender of young people is guilty of the sexual abuse of minors.
Suffering the Ongoing Trauma
Sometimes, the reason a sexual molester chooses vulnerable young adults and children as their prey is to ensure they remain dominant over their victim. These men and women use the trust of their authority given by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles as a weapon against those who cannot protect themselves. Typically, the predator targets defenseless victims knowing that they will never report what occurred with anyone.
In addition to dealing with clergy sexual abuse trauma, the victim can develop ongoing emotional trauma that may take years to resolve. During their healing, they may develop intense anxiety, confusion, a deep sense of depression, thoughts of suicide, and challenging personal relationships as they mature.
Traditionally, the Catholic Church - including those in California - has turned away from adult survivors of clergy sexual abuse who seek financial assistance to help with their counseling and allow them to move on. Many of these victims file claims seeking compensation for their physical injuries and emotional trauma.
Hiring Los Angeles Clergy Abuse Attorneys to Resolve your California Childhood Sexual Abuse Claim
Are you the victim of child sexual abuse? If you remain quiet for months, years, or decades about being sexually molested by a clergy? In recent years, the Roman Catholic Church is faced numerous sex abuse complaints filed by adult and child victims just like you looking to seek compensation and justice and hold the church and clergy members accountable.
At Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, our sexual abuse injury attorneys have pushcart against the church and recovered for our clients the level of compensation they deserve for the clergy abuse they endured.
Call our law firm today at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form for immediate legal advice and schedule a free, confidential case evaluation. We accept all personal injury cases and wrongful death lawsuits through contingency fee agreements. This promise ensures you will owe us nothing until we resolve your case through a negotiated settlement or jury verdict.