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Stockton Clergy Abuse Attorney

Stockton-Diocese-Clergy-Abuse-LawyersThe Catholic Church has a long history of sexual abuse scandals. In the past, victims have been ignored or threatened into silence by church officials. Over the years, thousands of accused priests have been abusing children, but few have faced criminal charges or civil lawsuits.

At Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, our personal injury attorneys are legal advocates to sexual abuse survivors 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 our California clergy sexual abuse attorneys 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.

Diocese of Stockton and the Roman Catholic Church

Many in the Catholic congregation experience the loving embrace of the teachings of the Church and accept the sacraments to celebrate the Holy Eucharist. Parishioners look to cardinals, bishops, pastors, parish priests, and other religious leaders to hear their confessions and guide them to holier lives.

Sadly, many clergy leaders use their power of authority to sexually assault, molest, sodomize, and rape innocent children and vulnerable adults under their care.

In 2002, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops created the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People to deal with the problems of credible allegations of sexual misconduct involving minors by clergy members. The Bishops developed the Charter to study problems involving minors who priests have harmed from 1950 until 2002.

Many accused priests (68%) who had been accused of sexually molesting victims were ordained into the Roman Catholic Church from 1950 until 1979. Most of those had sexually assaulted one victim.

Approximately one-quarter of the group was alleged to have sexually molested two or three innocent souls, and the remaining fourteen percent faced allegations of abusing up to nine victims. In addition, about one-third of the group suffered from other psychological and behavioral problems.

Stockton Clergy Abuse Lawyer

Stockton Diocese Clergy Sexual Abuse Attorney

Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC provides advocacy legal assistance for victims of sexual assault in the Stockton religious community. With our years of experience, we use the law to protect our client's rights and personal privacy.

Our law firm remains committed to obtaining the maximum financial compensation our clients deserve. If you or your loved one is a Catholic clergy abuse victim, we can handle every aspect of your case to ensure the legal action you take has a successful outcome.

With our years of experience, we have successfully resolved sexual abuse cases involving religious institutions. However, our law firm understands that the assault you endured creates long-lasting effects that shaped your close relationships, friendships, and your ability to trust others.

Let a clergy abuse lawyer help you successfully resolve your Diocese of Stockton case. Let's talk during a free, confidential consultation.

What is Clergy Abuse?

"Clergy Abuse" is a term used to describe sexual abuse committed by clergy members and other spiritual leaders. Clergy abuse, also known as "religious abuse," can involve:

  • Priest or Bishop Sexual Misconduct: Includes any inappropriate verbal, physical, or visual contact of a sexual nature with a minor, adult, or both.
  • Child Sexual Abuse: Child sexual abuse occurs when a child (under the age of 18) is used for the sexual gratification of an older person in a position of power and authority. Child sexual abuse can occur through physical contact or non-contact acts such as visual stimulation and viewing pornographic materials involving children.
  • Rape or Sexual Abuse: This occurs when a victim is forced into sexual intercourse without consent.
  • Sexual Exploitation of Children and Adults: Allowing, permitting, or encouraging an individual to engage in prostitution; forcing the labor of others through slavery and child pornography; physically restraining adults for financial gain; exposing an individual to pornography against their will; forcing people to pose for pornographic pictures, forcing an individual to masturbate in front of another person or on camera.
  • Inappropriate Touching: A caregiver, teacher, or clergy member uses their power over an innocent child or adult sexually.
  • Other Inappropriate Sexual Acts: Includes encouraging a minor child to watch pornography in the presence of an adult, exposing a child to pornographic materials, or attempting to engage in sexual intercourse with a minor.

Types of Sex Offenders in the Clergy

The American Psychiatric Association classifies different types of clergy sexual offenders based on their actions.

Exclusive Type (attraction to minors)

An exclusive type of offender is drawn only to children. They may abuse children they have a close relationship with or a history of trusting them, such as family members, friends' children, students in the community or school, and parishioners.

Exclusive Type (attraction to adults)

An exclusive type of offender is drawn only to adults. They may target women who trust them, such as members of their congregation, partners in their marriage or other relationships, and neighbors.

Non-exclusive Type (attraction to minors and adults)

A non-exclusive type of offender is attracted to both children and adults. They may target victims who are old enough to consent, such as peers or partners in their relationships, friends' children, fellow members of their congregation, or strangers.

Power Assertive

Offenders who use 'power assertive' tactics are often more likely to engage in the following behaviors:

  • Attempts to gain trust and friendship by appearing to be someone they are not (they may claim they want to help the child or share similar interests, backgrounds, or even sexual orientation)
  • May encourage others to participate in inappropriate activity with them or their sexually abused victim(s). They may offer gifts or favors to get what they want
  • May use charm and persuasion in their strategy (they may convince the child that what is happening is "normal" and healthy for them)
  • Reenact abusive experiences from their childhood or previous relationships. This behavior allows them to control others through emotional means since they have been "traumatized" themselves
  • Use physical force to get what they want from the child, but they might be less inclined to use force with an adult. This behavior is a result of a lack of self-control and impulse control issues

Mixed Type/Unclassified

This type of offender is sexually attracted to both adults and minors. They may target many different types of people.

How Sex Offenders Gain Trust

Many offenders who commit sexual crimes seek ways to gain the trust of their victims by developing a relationship with them. This behavior is part of their sexual deviance or mental illnesses that lead them to act on their urges. They may also use their status as clergy members to gain trust and build relationships with their victims through:

  • Offering help to the needy: Offenders target those who are vulnerable and in need of assistance. They may claim they want to help financially or even spiritually, perhaps by offering counseling services or participating in congregational activities such as counseling groups and prayer circles.
  • Building a relationship through authority and power: Offenders may offer guidance and direction to the victim(s) by giving advice, assigning responsibilities, making decisions, or implementing discipline. They may be older than their victims or establish themselves as authority figures to gain respect and control others.
  • Offering friendship or placing trust in them based on connections related to their occupation or status in the community: Members of the clergy have significant influence over others because they are associated with important religious, social, and cultural institutions.

Stockton Clergy Abuse Attorney

How Sex Offenders Gain Permission

Offenders don't typically use force to abuse children or vulnerable adults sexually. They may not need to since many can gain permission for their behavior through manipulation and trust.

Instead, they may convince the child to engage in sexual activity with them by offering gifts or favors, posing as someone they are not, or even reenacting abuse experienced by themselves or others.

They may also use persuasion, charm, flattery, threats, blackmail, bribery, alcohol/drugs, emotional coercion (e.g., isolating the victim), and physical force to engage victims in sexual activity.

Abusive Behavior by Type of Sex Offender

Child molesters abuse children they have a close relationship with or a history of trusting them, such as family members, friends' children, students under their care (e.g., coaches, teachers), or parishioners.

To gain permission from their victims, child molesters may abuse children by:

  • Offering gifts or favors: Sex offenders show affection and attention to the child in exchange for sexual acts. For example, offenders might take advantage of a vulnerable situation to build a relationship with a child by giving them something they want, whether money, toys, or even extra attention.
  • Offering guidance and direction through authority or power: Offenders show that they care about children by taking the time to listen to them, teach them, and spend special quality time with them. This influence may involve spending more one-on-one time than other adults in the child's life, such as parents, siblings, relatives, or friends. In addition, offenders may take advantage of a child's desire for attention or affection from an adult figure by spending time with them to meet their own sexual needs instead.
  • Offering friendship: Offenders gain a child's trust by acting friendly towards them and showing interest in the activities they enjoy, such as sports or hobbies. They may also seek to gain influence over what movies, music, and websites children can access. In addition, offenders will support the child's activities and create opportunities to be alone together (e.g., offering rides home after practice).

California Child Victims Act (CVCA)

The California Child Victims Act (CVCA), passed in 1990, extended the time limit for child sex abuse victims to file lawsuits against their abusers. In addition, the governor recently signed SB 131, allowing victims of priest abuse, among other high-profile cases, to seek damages from their abusers without a statute of limitations.

Victims of childhood sexual abuse have always had the right to bring a civil lawsuit against their abuser, but they are barred from doing so after reaching age 26. SB 131 allows victims 30 years old or older to seek justice from abusers for offenses when they were children.

The age limit was eliminated because most people with repressed memories don't come to terms with their abuse until they are adults. For example, in the Catholic church sex abuse scandals, many victims were children when clergy first abused them and didn't remember the abuses until well into adulthood.

In particular, SB 131 allows victims of sexual abuse by Roman Catholic priests in California to file civil lawsuits against those offenders without a statute of limitations. It is only one step in the right direction.

We will need to stay tuned as future bills are introduced to cover more victims. This bill gives older victims of clergy abuse who say they repressed memories of their abuse until adulthood the right to sue for damages.

This new law is about the tragic injuries inflicted on children by sexually abusive priests and about recognizing that it's common for survivors of sexual assault to suppress their memories or not to remember the abuse for many years.

In addition, we must also recognize that child victims seldom report sexual abuse because they feel shame and guilt and are afraid of getting in trouble. Child victims need support and therapy so that they can heal from these traumatic experiences.

The California Catholic Conference, which represents the state's bishops, said it "respectfully disagrees" with the law because it "revictimizes those who have already suffered." However, SB 131 was written to avoid this very problem by requiring victims to file a civil lawsuit within one year after they remembered the abuse.

This bill does not prevent church representatives or other defendants from mounting a defense or presenting evidence that disputes the claims. Instead, it merely eliminates the statute of limitations while allowing victims to file a civil suit.

Pope Francis Finally Takes Measures to Stop the Clergy Abuse

It took until the summer of 2019 for Pope Francis to stop hiding evidence involving Church leaders hiding evidence of clergy abuse. Before then, the Church never implemented any global policies requiring each Roman Catholic diocese to investigate any allegation of sexual molestation among the staff.

Up until the Pope announced his changes, the Vatican never created any formal measures to hold Bishops and Archbishops responsible for the clergy with credible allegations of sexual misconduct or the cover ups that followed.

For decades, predator priests victimized thousands of innocent children and vulnerable adults around the world. Yet, in nearly every case, Roman Catholic Diocese officials failed to report serial abusers with credible allegations of assault. As a result, even the most horrific incidents where one priest sexually abuses hundreds became high-profile cases years after the sexual abuse epidemic was exposed.

As a result of the coverup, many congregations remain cynical about their global leaders' direction in resolving this horrible problem. As a result, some Stockton Diocese parishioners have chosen to abandon the religion entirely.

The Stockton Diocesan Review Board identified numerous priests with credible allegations of sexual misconduct in all areas of the diocese, including in Stockton, San Andreas, Turlock, and Modesto. In addition, priests from Lady of Fatima Parish and St. Mary's Church were named in civil lawsuits on allegations of child sex molestation.

Cardinal Mahony covered up one civil lawsuit involving Reverend Oliver O'Grady molesting over two dozen children in incidents starting in 1973. O'Grady raped some of his victims.

The Signs and Symptoms of Sexual Assault

Child sex abuse is defined as mistreatment or intentional harm of anyone seventeen years and younger. Sexual assault can occur in numerous forms that happen one time or repeatedly. Typically, children who have experienced previous abuse are more vulnerable to repeated injury through sexual assault.

Also, disabled young people are 300% more likely to be sexual abuse survivors, especially if they have challenges with language or speech. Sexual assault can also occur online on websites, in chat rooms, or across all social media. Many times, the predator parish priest will use the Internet to groom their potential victim.

The common signs and symptoms associated with sexual molestation could involve:

  • The predator priest can physically injure the child, leaving their victim with bruises, vaginal or anal bleeding, or sexually transmitted disease.
  • The victim can show signs of depression, anxiety, experience sleep disturbances, develop eating habits changes, display anger or aggressiveness, and show fear of being alone with specific individuals.
  • The sexual assault survivor might regress to thumb-sucking or bedwetting.
  • The victim may display signs of low self-esteem or avoidance of any relationship.
  • Survivors often withdraw from society or rebel against authority.

The indirect signs of physical sexual assault might involve headaches, chronic stomach pain, wetting accidents involving uncontrollable urination, or recurrent/persistent pain during bowel movements.

Victims Often Never Speak up

Most sexually abused children remain silent about the assault because of a sense of guilt, believing the problem is their fault. Sometimes, the abuser convinces the victim that what happened is a typical "shared secret."

Sometimes, the child molester will bribe the child or threaten/harass them, causing a sense of fear of retaliation. However, some sexually molested survivors care for their sex offenders and will go to great lengths to ensure that what they say will not get the abuser into trouble.

If you know of a young person who has been sexually assaulted, it is essential to take immediate action. First, law enforcement should be notified to ensure that sexual molestation stops and an investigation is started to gather evidence.

Second, the young victim must be removed from the situation to ensure that repeated attacks do not occur. Often, child molesters will abuse their victims in school settings, at the parish rectory, in Church, during confession, at daycare, at a diocese-related camp, or sporting events.

Diocese of Stockton Clergy Sexual Abuse Attorneys Can Help

Sexual abuse among priests in the Roman Catholic Church continues to be a severe problem in the United States. While new incidents of credible allegations of sexual misconduct still occur, many sexual abuse survivors are taking a stand, facing their abuser, and filing lawsuits to hold them financially accountable in a civil trial.

If a Catholic Stockton Diocese religious leader harmed you through sexual assault, Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC could help you on a contingency fee basis. Contact us today at (888) 424-5757 to schedule a free case evaluation.

A Stockton clergy abuse lawyer will listen to your horrific story and provide legal advice on proceeding with legal action. Our law firm provides new opportunities for our clients to file a claim against the Church even if the California statute of limitations has expired since the abuse occurred.

For example, our legal team handles cases involving a northern California predator priest who is currently in "active ministry," has been removed from the priesthood, was placed on administrative leave, has already retired, or died.

Stockton Clergy Abuse Attorneys Resources:

Stockton Clergy Abuse Law Firm

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