Vermont Clergy Sexual Abuse Attorneys
Catholic Church Sexual Abuse in Vermont
Recent changes in Vermont law have made it possible for child sex abuse victims to file a lawsuit against the Roman Catholic Church. The state has gone from having very restrictive time limits to giving Vermont sexual abuse survivors virtually an unlimited right to file a civil lawsuit.
The law's extended time restriction helps every victim who has experienced frightening abuse by clergy. Vermont is home to one of the more shocking instances of Catholic Church abuse, and victims now have the ability to seek justice for it through legal criminal and civil remedies. Now, sexual abuse survivors may be eligible for substantial financial compensation.
Vermont Abuse Lawsuit Attorneys
Our law firm can help you take legal action against the Church as a victim of sexual misconduct before the statute of limitations expires. In the past, the Vermont Church has resisted and fought every victim exploited by Catholic priests as they sought to exercise their legal rights to receive compensation for their damages.
Our criminal justice attorneys will work with you to help hold the Vermont Church accountable for the sexual assault that its priests and clergy inflicted on you when you were a minor or young adult. Call us today for your free consultation to discuss your case and legal options. Learn more about how our clients file a court action against the Catholic Church.
The Catholic Church in Vermont
The territory of the Diocese of Burlington covers all of Vermont. The number of Catholics statewide has been dropping as it has across the entire United States in recent years. As of 2015, there were 117,000 Catholics in Vermont spread out across seventy-three parishes in locations such as South Burlington, Rutland, and Barre. The number in the congregation is down almost a third from peak membership in the Diocese of Burlington years before.
As a result of a declining congregation and rising lawsuit cases by sexual abuse survivors, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington has sold properties and reduced some of its religious footprint in the state.
Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington
55 Joy Drive
South Burlington, Vermont 05403
Bishop Christopher J. Coyne
Former Bishop Salvatore Ronald Matano (2005-2013)
Former Bishop Kenneth Anthony Angell (1992-2005)
Former Bishop John Aloysius Marshall (1971-1991)
Former Bishop Robert Francis Joyce (1956-1971)
Former Bishop Edward Francis Ryan (1944-1956)
Former Bishop Matthew Francis Brady (1938-1944)
A History of Sexual Exploitation in Vermont
Looking at statistics is all that is needed to understand how pervasive sexual misconduct has been in the Burlington Diocese. In 2019, church officials released a new report listing priests credibly accused of child sex abuse.
There were forty names on the list of Vermont religious predators. Since 1950, there have been 419 priests assigned to the Diocese of Burlington. This statistic reveals that one in every ten clergy members serving in the diocese over the past 70 years has been credibly accused of sex abuse and unwanted sexual touching.
The staggering number of sexual abuse shows how deep the problems have run among clergy in the Catholic Church. In compiling the list, the Church looked at the files of roughly fifty priests connected with allegations of sexual abuse.
Many of the sexually abused survivors' claims involved a pattern of horrific conduct at St. Joseph’s orphanage run by the diocesan officials. For decades, the abuse of minor children and young adults was unspeakable and for a long time, it was both physical and sexual, leaving most with long-lasting emotional scars.
Children at St. Joseph’s orphanage were beaten, raped, burned, and thrown into the water to possibly drown. The Catholic Church attempted to defend itself against these horrific claims of abuse by victim-survivors to avoid criminal justice.
Even the former Bishop of Providence has been accused on abuse in connection with his time at the orphanage when he was an associate priest. The investigation into the orphanage continues today. Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan has formed a task force to investigate the criminal behavior at the orphanage on behalf of law enforcement.
The Vermont attorney general’s office continues to work on the legal matter to consider possible criminal charges against the Catholic priests who are still alive. Regardless of the seemingly compelling evidence that has emerged, the Vermont diocese responded as it usually does with the new information, with a coverup of credible allegations of church sex abuse.
However, sexual abuse survivors continue to seek justice to hold predator clergy members who harmed minor children for decades.
The Vermont Church Hides Assets to Keep from Paying in Civil Suits
In filing a lawsuit against the Vermont church, one will need to act relatively quickly. There is at least some legal question of how much the diocese will have on hand to pay settlements of sexual abuse claims.
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington does not have insurance, and it claims to be a non-profit notwithstanding the hundreds of millions of dollars that it had. The Diocese also stashed away most of its assets into trusts to keep sexual abuse victims from being able to access them with court orders. The Vermont church moved nearly half a billion into trusts to avoid having to pay the victims that its priests harmed.
However, victims fought back, and courts in Vermont aggressively pursued the assets of the Church in an attempt to not let it escape responsibility for its decades of sexual abuse. Vermont courts slapped liens on much of the church’s property and investment accounts.
The Church ultimately settled a wave of lawsuits in 2010 for over $20 million and sold off some of its property to raise funds to resolve victim abuse cases. Other church assets are available to settle lawsuits. However, obtaining payment from the Church of settlements or verdicts may require some effort on the part of your attorney so it is best to file your case now.
Statute of Limitations in Vermont
As stories about the criminal sexual deviancy in the diocese emerged, the Vermont Legislature recognized that it would need to do something to help victims of child sexual abuse get the justice that they deserved.
Last year, Vermont Governor Phil Scott signed into law a bill that would waive the statute of limitations in child sexual abuse civil cases. In other words, every lawsuit involving allegations of sexual assault by Vermont priests can be filed no matter how long ago the alleged abuse happened since there are no more statutes of limitations in the state.
HB 330 repealed a previous requirement of a six-year time limit for a lawsuit. This requirement prevented most victims of child sexual abuse from filing a lawsuit for what they had to endure. HB 330 is one of the broadest reforms in the country in the recent wave of statutory changes in states such as New Jersey, New York, and California enacted to help abuse survivors.
Damages in a Vermont Sex Abuse Lawsuit
When you file a case in court seeking financial compensation for the priest sex abuse that you endured, you can recover a number of different damages. They include:
- Pain and suffering damages, including for the emotional trauma that you have suffered at the hands of the predator priest and continue to deal with through today
- The costs of medical care and any kind of psychiatric or psychological treatment
- Lost wages if the effects of the abuse cost you earnings or the ability to work
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of consortium
Vermont Survivors of Clergy Abuse Attorneys
Our Vermont sexual abuse lawyers will work with you from the very first call that you make to schedule a free confidential case evaluation. Once you retain us as your lawyer, we will give you legal advice on how to file a civil claim against a priest, clergy members, and the Burlington Diocese.
When you file an abuse case, you may need to reconstruct what happened to you and produce evidence of the assault that shows that it is more likely than not to have occurred. Our personal injury law firm understands that speaking up may not be easy for you, and promise to work with you compassionately.
Call us today at (888) 434-5757 (toll-free phone call) or the contact form to set up your free initial consultation to discuss taking legal action. Our clients do not pay our attorneys for work on their case unless we are successful in obtaining financial compensation on their behalf.