San Bernardino Clergy Abuse Attorney
The Roman Catholic Church has been rocked by a series of scandals involving pedophile priests. As the public becomes aware that many Catholic clergies have sexually abused children, victims and their families are stepping forward to seek justice through civil lawsuits against the church and its leadership.
Are you the victim of childhood sexual abuse can mark are you looking to pursue compensation while seeking justice? At Rosenfeld injury lawyers, LLC, our personal injury attorneys are legal advocates serving clients harmed by religious leaders and institutions.
Contact a San Bernardino clergy 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.
Many of these cases involve sexual abuse allegations committed decades ago when some current bishops were themselves in positions of authority over abusive priests. There is concern among some Catholics that the Vatican may be attempting to cover up or otherwise obstruct justice for survivors who hold accountable those responsible for such crimes.
The Diocese of San Bernardino
In Catholicism, Cardinals, Bishops, Pastors, Parish priests, and other religious leaders strengthen the faith of the congregation through instruction and guidance. The Catholic community of believers looks to the Vatican papacy, guided by Pope Francis, to celebrate the sacraments and accept the teachings revealed by God.
Unfortunately, many clergymen follow their personal failings and harm the innocent through child sex abuse and molestation.
Nearly two decades ago, the California Catholic Conference of Bishops in the United States committed to following a “zero-tolerance” for Catholic priests sexually assaulting minors.
During that time, the release of the Pennsylvania grand jury report illuminated the extent of the clergy sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church in America. The grand jury investigation revealed severe problems that needed immediate attention.
Many Catholic dioceses throughout the United States, including in San Bernardino, Palm Springs, San Diego, Los Angeles, and the Diocese of Orange, hid their list of priests with credible allegations of child molestation away from parishioners.
When the congregation finally became aware of the uniquely massive problem, most of the incidents occurred long in the past. However, clergy sexual abuse remains an ongoing issue that requires church officials to take immediate action for the protection of innocent victims.
What is Clergy Abuse?
Clergy abuse is the sexual, physical, or emotional abuse of a child by a person in a position of religious authority. The effects include loss of faith and a sense of betrayal, with long-lasting negative impacts on self-concept, trust, and relationships.
A survey from 2012 found that 2 women were sexually abused every week by their partners. Sadly, the same statistics apply to children abused by a "trusted" clergy member.
Sexual, physical, or emotional abuse is everywhere. It doesn't discriminate on the basis of gender, age; it doesn't discriminate on the basis of your job or status. Abuse is abuse and it can happen to anyone.
How Big Of a Problem is Clergy Abuse?
It is estimated that only 1 in 10 victims of child sexual abuse ever report their experience to authorities and as such it can be difficult to build up an accurate picture of how many people have been affected by this crime.
It is a growing problem with increasing awareness leading to more people coming forward and reporting their experiences of being abused as a child by a member of the clergy.
The Justice Department estimates there are more than 100,000 child victims of rape and sexual abuse every year in the U.S.
In the past 10 years, there has been a staggering 300 percent increase of child sexual abuse cases reported to law enforcement officials according to RAINN (Rape Abuse & Incest National Network).
The Effect on the Victim
The most common effect of child sexual abuse experienced by a victim is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Sexual, physical, or emotional abuse, in general, has the potential to cause victims great distress, fear, low self-esteem, and other mental health issues.
It also has been shown to lead to alcohol/drug addiction, relationship problems (i.e.: difficulty trusting others or feeling safe around them), depression, anxiety, and eating disorders.
Possible Reasons a Sexual Predator Abuses
People who abuse children are generally driven by specific "needs" they believe can only be met through their chosen form of behavior. This desire for power is often accompanied by an additional need to seek out people whom they perceive to be vulnerable and unable to defend themselves.
Current research suggests child abusers are more likely than non-abusers to have suffered some type of traumatic experience when they were children (e.g., physical or sexual abuse). Some abusers may not even realize what they are doing is in fact abusive behavior; this is known as an "unconscious compulsion."
What to Lookout For Concerning Childhood Sexual Abuse
Adult survivors of clergy abuse might show signs like anxiety, fear, withdrawal, mood swings, depression, guilt, or shame. They may also begin to act out in school or at home; they may act younger than their age; they may create stories or memories that don't make sense. A child's drawings and writings may reflect sexual abuse.
Signs of priest abuse may also include:
- Becoming more religious than before,
- Believing in "magical thinking,"
- Engaging in self-harming behaviors such as cutting or burning themselves
They might become overly concerned with rigid gender roles and sexuality; they might use drugs/alcohol to escape from their suffering.
What Victims Can Do If They Are Suffering
If the clergy sexual abuse is still ongoing, call 911 immediately. It's important to get help no matter how long ago the abuse occurred or who it happened with at any age.
If the sexual, physical, or emotional abuse has stopped, get professional treatment right away before the effects of the trauma manifest themselves in later life.
If a child is being abused, it is important to report this immediately to the authorities and reach out for help. A school counselor, teacher, trusted adult, or law enforcement official can be an excellent place to start with finding available resources in your area that may be able to assist.
Victims' needs are unique and based on the circumstances of their situation, so it is important to get help from a place that specializes in helping people who have been abused.
What are some common types of sexual abuse?
There are many different forms of sexual abuse but some examples include:
- Forcing someone to watch or participate in pornography – even child pornography – is a form of sexual abuse
- Exposing one's genitals to a child is a form of clergy sexual abuse
- Engaging in inappropriate sexual activity with adults or other children
- Inappropriate touching
- Sexual harassment
- Grooming a child for inappropriate sexual activity in the future
- Lying the child with gifts, cash, or other items of value in exchange for sex her keeping quiet about sexual abuse
- Spreading rumors about a child to damage their reputation or social standing is a form of emotional abuse
What are some signs that a child may have been sexually abused? If you believe that a child has been sexually abused, there are several signs to look out for. These include:
- Sleep disturbances
- Sudden or drastic changes in behavior, emotional reactions, or relationships with others/ isolation may indicate that clergy sexual abuse has occurred
- Sexual behavior that is different from what is expected at their age
- Unexplained sexually transmitted infections
- Knowledge of sexual acts inappropriate for their age
- Drawings, pictures, and writings that convey sexual knowledge, interest, and experience far beyond the child's years should be considered suspect. The drawings may depict genitalia; adult figures (the abuser or other children); coercive or violent sexual acts; and/or sexually explicit language.
How can a parent help if their child has been abused? It is important that parents create a safe environment for children to talk about childhood clergy sexual abuse without feeling judged or responsible.
Don't ask leading questions, but instead allow the child to describe what happened in their own words. Be sure to listen attentively and avoid talking about yourselves or what you think happened.
If sexual misconduct is an ongoing problem, it is important to remove the child from that environment immediately.
The Roman Catholic Church Cover-Up
For decades, Roman Catholic Church leaders have hit, relocated, or dismissed priests, bishops, cardinals, nuns, brothers, sisters, and other clergy persons and laypeople facing allegations of sexual misconduct.
Many church officials have gone to great lengths to ensure that the public, religious community, and congregation are never made aware that there are sexual predators in their midst, in charge of their spiritual growth.
This sad failure to lead to the religious organization has let down child sexual abuse survivors and Catholics around the world.
Pope Francis (the head of the Catholic Church) has been praised for his efforts to eradicate sexual abuse in the church, but critics say he hasn't gone nearly far enough. Survivors of child sexual have said that they are still waiting for decisive action from Pope Francis, despite two years without a new case being publicized.
Childhood Sexual Abuse Survivors are Fighting Back
Since the #MeToo Movement a few years ago, many childhood sexual abuse survivors or stepping forward to tell their stories after repressing their feelings, hurt, and trauma for years or decades.
Some are speaking out for the first time, while others have revealed their stories that were previously silenced by people in positions of power. While adult abuse is relatively uncommon, many sexual abuse allegations are made when victims file claims years or decades after the priest abuse occurred.
#MeToo has also caused childhood sexual abuse survivors to come together in order to offer emotional support and inspiration to one another. In response, prosecutors have found new ways to file criminal charges against alleged abusers while providing a civil legal recourse for the victims in civil court.
Social media hashtags like #ChurchToo have added more voices to the recent outcry about priest sexual abuse survivors and institutions that have failed them. Many of these credibly accused Catholic clergy members have been stopped from further abuse when legal action is taken.
The statistics for childhood sexual abuse are startling: One in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused before they turn eighteen, but those numbers increase if the child being abused is disabled or a member of a racial/ethnic minority group.
A recent report from the U.S. Department of Justice (2017) found that one in three Native American women, one in four African American women, and one in five Hispanic women are sexually assaulted during their lifetimes.
Did You Know?
More than 90% of children who are sexually abused do not report the sexual assault for years or decades after it happened.
Childhood sexual abuse survivors are also at increased risk for drug and alcohol problems, depression, suicide, pregnancy in young teens, criminal behavior, obesity, chronic pain disorders, cancer, and other health-related concerns.
Recent changes to the California Child Victims Act signed by California Governor Gavin Newsom have extended the timeline to file a civil lawsuit against the predator priests, San Bernardino diocese, or another clergy accused of sexual misconduct.
Many victims of priest abuse are realizing they can finally hold the credibly accused predator legally accountable. Contact the California attorney from our law firm today to schedule a free consultation.
Take Legal Action
Are you ready to step forward, tell your story, and hold your abuser and Catholic Church legally and financially accountable? Are you fearful that you'll need to let the public know what happened?
Recent changes in California law now allow victims of childhood sexual abuse to take their case to the legal system without publicly acknowledging what occurred. This process allows victims to break their silence by taking an oath in front of a court official and, if approved, the case would move forward without you publicizing your name.
You don't have to do it alone. The experienced legal team at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC is here to help you each step of the way. We are advocates for victims of sexual assault, childhood sexual abuse, clergy abuse, and all types of personal injury litigation.
Our team is here to take your call day or night (888) 424-5757 and offer you a free case evaluation. Get the compensation you deserve.
San Bernardino Diocese Sexual Assault Attorney
For years, Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC has served as a legal advocate for victims who were sexually assaulted by the San Bernardino religious community.
With our comprehensive understanding of California tort law, our lawyers protect our client’s rights and personal privacy. If you were injured by a clergy member who sexually abused you recently or decades ago, let a clergy abuse attorney discuss your case in a confidential setting so we can provide you with legal options.
We understand the challenges you face standing up against the Catholic Church. However, you will never stand there alone. Our law firm can assist you in beginning your healing process to set aside the abuse that occurred during a vulnerable time in your life. We can ensure that your case is resolved successfully to provide you financial compensation to move on and away from the pain.
Newly Formed Independent Compensation Program Helps Child Sexual Abuse Survivors
In 2019, the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Bernardino launched their Independent Compensation Program with other California dioceses, including the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, Diocese of San Diego, Orange Diocese, and Dioceses of Fresno.
The Independent Compensation Program (ICP) supports the Diocese of San Bernardino’s commitment to bring healing to victim-survivors of sexual abuse of minors.
The California Catholic Conference acknowledged its lack of transparency in exposing the Church’s sexual abuse crisis involving every survivor of clergy abuse. All dioceses failed to protect innocent victims from clergy with credible allegations of child abuse and created an unsafe environment for molestation survivors.
For decades, church officials of all religious orders in all dioceses in California failed to release their list of Catholic priests accused of inappropriate sexual contact. These include the San Diego Diocese, Sacramento Diocese, Archdiocese of Los Angeles, Fresno Diocese, and others.
Many clergy abuse cases involving alleged sexual misconduct in local parishes before July 1978 occurred in a part of the Diocese of San Diego, before the formation of the Diocese of San Bernardino. Many victim-survivors of sexual abuse of minors are participating in the compensation program to obtain financial support and hear the apologies from the diocesan personnel and San Bernardino Bishop Barnes.
Since the launch of the compensation program, over 400 victim-survivors of sexual abuse of minors have come forward to register for compensation. Similar programs in New York and across the nation have paid victims an average of $200,000 to $2 million based on the severity of the crime.
Changes in the California Statute of Limitations Law
In the fall of 2019, California Governor Newsom signed the state legislators’ Assembly bill to extend the time limit previously restricted by the statute of limitations. Now, every survivor of sexual abuse harmed by clergy members in all California dioceses, including San Bernardino, San Diego, and Los Angeles, can file civil lawsuits against the Church and the accused priests that caused them harm.
Previously, the sexual assault survivor gave up their legal rights to financial compensation through a civil lawsuit once they reach their twenty-sixth birthday if they had not already filed a claim. In many cases, the victim was too scared to speak up, lived in fear of retaliation, or was dealing with life challenges associated with the abuse.
The survivor’s silence and the Roman Catholic Church’s cover-up helped hide the sexual abuse crisis while protecting the predatory priest at the expense of the victim.
Now, any victim of alleged abuse can take legal action by following the newly enacted law’s “three-year open-window” no matter when the abuse occurred. The window will remain open between January 1, 2020, and January 1, 2023.
Afterward, any individual can file a civil lawsuit against the Church, Diocese of San Bernardino, diocesan personnel, Bishop Barnes, and clergy members until the victim reaches their fortieth birthday.
Diocese of San Bernardino Clergy Sexual Abuse Attorneys Can Help
For hundreds of years, the Catholic Church has worked in secrecy, hiding evidence away from parishioners, law enforcement, and the public involving clergy sexual abuse. Only recently, under the guidance of Pope Francis, has the Church taken the initiative and expanded the opportunities to obtain compensation for victims of sexual abuse.
If you are a sexual assault survivor, harmed by a San Bernardino Diocese clergyman, Rosenfeld, injury Lawyers, LLC, can help. Contact our law firm today at (888) 424-57572 to schedule a free, no-obligation case consultation. We can review your case's merits in a confidential setting and provide numerous options on how to proceed.
Recent changes in California law have created new opportunities for injured victims to file a civil lawsuit against the Church and predator priest, even if the state's statute of limitations has expired.
We accept all cases involving clergy abusers with a current status of in "active ministry," removed from the priesthood, visiting from another diocese, placed on administrative leave, in retirement, or deceased.
We accept every case on a contingency fee basis, meaning no upfront fees are required until your case is resolved through a negotiated settlement or jury award. All information you share will remain private through attorney-client privilege.