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Pennsylvania Clergy Abuse Lawyer

Pennsylvania Attorneys Investigating Sexual Assault Claims Against the Roman Catholic Church Archdioceses

Were you or a loved one a victim of Pennsylvania clergy sexual abuse? Schedule a free case evaluation today with the personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC. Contact us today at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form.

Our litigating team of clergy sexual abuse lawyers will fight on your behalf to protect your rights as you tell us what happened in a confidential setting. All information you share with a PA clergy abuse attorney concerning sexual abuse remains confidential through an attorney-client relationship.

Our experienced clergy abuse lawyers have a comprehensive understanding of Pennsylvania tort law. We use the legal system to help child sexual abuse survivors seek justice using criminal and civil law.

Pennsylvania Catholic church clergy abuse

Clergy Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse is a violent crime that physically, emotionally, and mentally injures young and old children and adults. Offenders force assaulted victims of abuse to engage in sexual activity without their consent.

Prosecutors in every state recognize the horrific injury that abuse has on victims and the community. However, the category of criminal charges and the form of criminal and civil consequences the perpetrator receives can vary significantly between states and counties.

It often takes victims of sexual abuse decades to speak about the abuse they survived, usually coming forward only after suffering in silence for years.

If you were sexually assaulted or have a loved one victimized through abuse by clergy members, the compassionate network of affiliate attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, can help.

Our caring team understands the pain you are feeling and the courage it takes to speak openly about what occurred. Our Catholic Archdiocese sexual abuse attorneys are ready to listen to your story. 

We have a comprehensive understanding of Pennsylvania tort law and will use the legal system to ensure the predator faces the consequences they deserve for their unacceptable behavior.

Sexual Abuse with Clergy Remains a Problem

For over thirty years, child sexual abuse cases involving alleged incidents of abuse have risen dramatically in the Church.

At the turn of the millennium, the Holy See, the Catholic Church’s governing body, admitted they were investigating allegations of child sex abuse involving thousands of priests who had harmed children and adults for decades.

At the same time, the Catholics and other religious organizations were forced to admit that they had concealed the inexcusable assaults rather than take steps to stop the problem.

Nearly twenty years ago, the results of a survey on preventing sexual and domestic violence posted in the New York Times found that almost fifteen percent of all religious clergy members in the US had engaged in some form of inappropriate sexual activity.

Pennsylvania Grand Jury Investigations

For years, grand jury investigations in Pennsylvania have identified cases involving egregious sex assault of children in dioceses throughout the state, including Allentown, Erie, Greensburg, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, and Scranton, during an extraordinary unfolding crisis.

In August 2018, a Pennsylvania grand jury recounted cases of abuse by clerical staff occurring at Pennsylvania dioceses. For decades, Catholic leaders provided graphically detailed accounts of priests committing sexual assaults on innocent victims.

The church provided evidence proving that Bishops, Archbishops, and other church superiors, including numerous Popes, never addressed the problem of sexual abuse in the priesthood even though they had been aware of the incidents for decades. As a result, attorney generals and prosecutors in other states began launching investigations into their child sexual abuse in their dioceses.

One of the results of this new evidence that surfaced is a wave of clergy sexual abuse lawsuits that have been filed, alleging child abuse by PA clergy.

Pennsylvania Clergy Abuse Attorneys

Six Pennsylvania Dioceses Under Investigation

In 2019, state investigators released their investigative findings. The grand jury report found allegations of clergy sexual abuse happening at six dioceses throughout Pennsylvania.

The three-year investigation concluded when the State empaneled jurors to hear testimony. The grand jury report revealed that investigators had spent years examining documents and listening to testimony over allegations that the religious institution had failed to protect innocent underage girls and boys from clergy sexual perpetrators.

The six dioceses include Allentown, Erie, Greensburg, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, and Scranton. However, the clergy abuse report failed to identify how many abuse survivors, religious leaders, and predator priests the grand jury panel had subpoenaed.

Deemed Unsuitable for Priesthood

In 2011, an investigation into the Archdiocese of Philadelphia found that religious leaders had concealed widespread clergy abuse. At that time, the religious institution removed many reverends that religious leaders had deemed unsuitable for the priesthood due to allegations of sexual abuse.

The investigation led to the conviction and sentencing of Msgr. William Linn. At that time, the Monsignor was the highest-ranking religious leader in the US Catholic Church convicted in the child sexual abuse scandal.

However, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court reversed his conviction and three- to a six-year prison sentence, citing trial errors in the sexual abuse claim. The judges' decision freed the sexual offender from incarceration, and he remains a free man.

The Devastating Effects of a Sexual Attack

Child sexual abuse can cause lifelong devastation that negatively alters the victim’s well-being, especially for children raised in religious households.

Many victims of abuse at the hands of the clergy can suffer from:

  • Ongoing depression
  • Anxiety
  • Shame
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Substance abuse
  • Significant sleeping disorders
  • Self-harm
  • Suicide, including suicidal ideation (thinking about suicide)

Young children and teenage sexual abuse victims might develop negative eating habits, begin living an over-sexualized lifestyle, or engage in any form of risky behavior.

Some child sexual abuse victims develop relationship issues with spouses, lovers, siblings, and other family members throughout their lives.

Taking Civil Action

Many sexual abuse victims never pursue justice, legal advice, or take civil actions against their abusers. As a result, many sexual perpetrators are never held accountable, responsible for their horrible atrocities, and stand trial for their crimes.

Most victims abused by a clergy member never seek medical treatment, mental health care, or counseling for the traumatic injuries that occurred long ago.

Most survivors never confront the perpetrator who victimized the innocent child through rape, sodomy, oral sex, inappropriate touching & fondling, or other despicable behavior.

Pennsylvania Clergy Sex Abuse Attorneys

Seeking Justice

In Pennsylvania, the Roman Catholic Church has created a compensation fund to settle the backlog of sexual abuse claims occurring in seven of eight dioceses in the state. Victims have received, on average, more than $148,000 each in settlements to resolve their child sexual abuse case.

However, the payout is likely a small fraction of how much the plaintiffs might have received had they presented their evidence at trial.

In April 2018, the New York Times reported that Catholic priests in Pennsylvania had sexually abused over a thousand children in the last few decades.

A small sample of child sexual abuse cases where the victims sought and obtained financial compensation include:

  • In March 2019, Catholic leaders and a victim who was sexually abused by an Erie, Pennsylvania Catholic priest settled a sexual molestation case. The abuse case resulted in a $2 million payment to the survivor. The victim’s abuse lawyer stated his client was sexually violated by David Polson, who was sentenced to fourteen years in prison after pleading guilty to corrupting minors and endangering children’s welfare.
  • In 1988, Thomas Bender, the pastor of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Bally, Pennsylvania, received seven years of probation for the molestation of a Pottsville teen earlier in the decade. The diocese settled the individual case with the child and his family for an undisclosed amount. The church defrocked (laicized) Father Bender.

Legal fees and financial compensation for victims of sexual abuse have so far cost the Diocese of Pittsburg more than $30 million to settle sexual abuse cases involving their clergy members over nearly thirty years.

In recent years, the investigation found sufficient evidence of alleged clergy sexual molestation involving more than ninety priests and many victims in the Pittsburgh area occurring over seventy years.

The diocese's monetary compensation is relatively low compared to the estimated $3 billion Catholic leaders have spent in the United States settling sexual assault cases since the 1980s.

Pennsylvania Child Sexual Abuse Lawyers Are Ready to Help

Our clergy abuse lawyers understand the difficulty that sexually abused victims experience when speaking about a clergy member’s inappropriate behavior that religious institutions typically overlook.

Our PA clergy abuse lawyers can use civil tort law to fight against the church and its religious leaders who have just begun speaking out about what went wrong. In addition, we serve as legal advocates to ensure that no clergy abuse survivor stands alone.

Reporting Molestation

Our personal injury lawyers represent clergy abuse victims to ensure they receive the compensation they deserve. We work with local law enforcement to report the molestation and use civil law to hold the predator responsible for compensatory and punitive damages.

Our legal team can ensure that your child abuse lawsuit is filed against the perpetrator and religious institutions before the statute of limitations expires. Call us today at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form to schedule a free consultation.

We accept all abuse cases through contingency fee agreements, meaning you will not pay us for our legal services unless we win.

Statute of Limitations

In Pennsylvania, the statute of limitations to seek justice for inappropriate sexual touching or abuse is twelve years from the date of the molestation. This means a child is required to file a civil suit within twelve years after they turn 18 years old.

If a plaintiff fails to report their abuse before the statutes of limitations expire, they will not be able to seek legal recourse against their abuser in court.

In most cases, the location of the sexual abuse can determine whether or not a child has met the statute of limitations for filing a civil suit. In Pennsylvania, the statute changes once a victim leaves his home district to seek redress in another one.

The Discovery Rule

The twelve years begin from when the molestation occurs or from when it is discovered by authorities after being reported by a victim.

According to local legal counsel, the discovery rule applies in sex molestation cases, meaning that the clock on the statute of limitations is only ticking once the victim learns or should have reasonably known about their injury.

The plaintiff must file suit within twelve years after they learn about their injuries unless it is reasonable for them not to do so.”

Pennsylvania Law on Sexual Abuse

In Pennsylvania, a plaintiff can pursue claims involving sexual abuse under the state’s child sex molestation laws.

According to Pennsylvania law, a child predator who uses drugs to subdue their victim is criminally liable for drug-induced sex assault.

The penalty includes at least two years in prison if the criminal use of force involved touching the victim’s intimate body parts for arousal, gratification, or abuse. If no touch was made, the defendant faces at least five years in jail for drug-induced inappropriate sexual activity.

Pennsylvania Clergy Sex Abuse Lawsuit

Lawsuits Involving Sexual Molestation

Victims of sexual abuse often seek damages from the perpetrator and negligent third parties in lawsuits filed in civil court. The types of compensation available in an abuse case include:

  • Medical expenses
  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Mental anguish and emotional distress
  • Lost wages due to missed work or a lower-paying job that does not accommodate the victim’s physical limitations
  • Diminished future earning capacity, also known as loss of enjoyment of life. This can apply if the victim is unable to perform employment activities they did before the abuse.

Six Pennsylvania Dioceses

In Pennsylvania, the Catholic Church is the single largest religious group of all faiths statewide. The Church provides services to hundreds of thousands of registered Catholics living in sixty-seven counties.

The ten dioceses and their Bishops manage more than 340 parishes across Pennsylvania (listed below).

Pennsylvania Dioceses

Diocese of Allentown

202 North 17th Street
Allentown, PA 18105
Berks, Carbon, Lehigh, Northampton, and Schuylkill Counties
Website

Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown

126 Logan Boulevard
Hollidaysburg, PA 16648
Bedford, Blair, Cambria, Centre, Clinton, Fulton, Huntingdon, and Somerset Counties
Website

Diocese of Erie

429 East Grandview Boulevard
Erie, PA 16514
Cameron, Clarion, Clearfield, Crawford, Elk, Erie, Forest, Jefferson, McKean, Mercer, Potter, Venango, and Warren Counties
Website

Diocese of Greensburg

723 East Pittsburgh Street
Greensburg, PA 15601
Armstrong, Fayette, Indiana, and Westmoreland Counties
Website

Archdiocese of Philadelphia

1000 East Wynnewood Road
Wynnewood, PA 19096
Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia Counties
Website

Diocese of Pittsburgh

4721 Fifth Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
Allegheny, Beaver, Butler, Greene, Lawrence, Washington Counties
Website

Diocese of Scranton

300 Wyoming Avenue
Scranton, PA 18503-1279


Bradford, Lackawanna, Luzerne, Lycoming, Monroe, Pike, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Tioga, Wayne, and Wyoming Counties
Website

Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia

810 N. Franklin Street
Philadelphia, PA 19123
Website

Byzantine Catholic Archeparchy of Pittsburgh

66 Riverview Avenue
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15214
Website

Pennsylvania Clergy Sex Abuse Lawyers

Pennsylvania Clergy Sexual Molestation Attorneys Are Ready to Help

Our network of attorneys understands the problematic situation of speaking out about what occurred by a shameful religious leader, even though you deserve justice.

We know how powerful the church is at pushing back at claims of clergy abuse. The usual tools in their arsenal include covering up and burying the evidence of child sexual abuse.

However, with Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, working on your behalf, you will never be alone. We will work aggressively to ensure your shocking story will be heard by the court. We may work to settle your case if that is an option.

If not, we will vigorously argue your case in court. As clergy sex abuse lawyers, we help abuse victims get their day in court.

Let our law firm begin working on your case today. Speak out now and file a sexual abuse lawsuit. Victims of clergy sexual abuse do not have to exist with just their memories.

Instead, so long as you are within the statutes of limitations, you can file legal action. You may be able to obtain monetary compensation for the harm that you have suffered.

Contact us now at (888) 424-5757. All information you share with our legal team during your initial, free consultation concerning your case will remain confidential.

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