Vermont Clergy Sexual Abuse Attorneys
Catholic Church Sexual Abuse in Vermont
Were you or your loved one victim of clergy abuse in Vermont? Schedule a free confidential consultation today with the personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC. Contact us at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone call) or use the contact form.
Our experienced team of legal representatives will fight to protect your rights and provide a safe environment to tell us what happened. Our clergy sexual abuse lawyers are ready to hear your Vermont sexual abuse story.
Vermont Sexual Abuse Laws
Recent changes in Vermont law have made it possible for child sex abuse victims to file a lawsuit against the Roman Catholic Church. The Vermont legislature has removed very restrictive time limits, that now give victims virtually an unlimited right to file a sexual abuse civil lawsuit.
The law change in the criminal justice system helps people who have experienced frightening sexual abuse as a child by extending the time that they can file a sexual injury lawsuit involving unwanted sexual touching, aggravated sexual assault, and sexual exploitation.
Sexual assault cases involving the Catholic Church have rocked Vermont. Many survivors have hired a sexual abuse lawyer to file a civil lawsuit on their behalf before the state statute of limitations expires.
Filing a civil claim begins the process of receiving financial compensation and allows the victim to seek justice for sexual crimes caused by clergy members.
Vermont Child Sexual Abuse Lawsuit Attorneys
A clergy abuse lawyer with our law firm can help you take legal action against the Church as a victim of sexual misconduct. In the past, the Vermont Church has resisted and fought those who were exploited by Catholic priests as they sought to exercise their legal rights to damages.
Our attorneys will work with you to help hold the Church accountable for the sexual assault that its priests and clergy inflicted on you. Call us today for your free legal consultation and to learn more about how you can file a court action against the Catholic Church.
The Catholic Church in Vermont
In Vermont, the territory of the Diocese of Burlington covers the entire state. The number of Catholics in the state has been dropping as it has across the entire United States. As of 2015, there were 117,000 Catholics in Vermont spread out across 73 parishes in locations such as South Burlington, Rutland, and Barre. This is down almost a third from peak membership in the Vermont Church.
As a result of declining membership and an increase in sexual abuse lawsuits, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington has sold properties and reduced some of its footprint in the state. Many cases of child sexual abuse occurred decades ago involving lewd and lascivious conduct of religious leaders, priests really, deacons, teachers, coaches, and other sexual predators.
A History of Sexual Exploitation in Vermont
Sexual abuse data revealed the pervasive sexual misconduct in the Burlington Diocese in recent years. In 2019, church officials released a list of Roman Catholic priests in Vermont who had been credibly accused of childhood sexual abuse.
Since 1950, there have been 419 priests assigned to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington. Identifying 40 religious leaders accused of sexual misconduct means that one in every ten clergy members serving in the diocese over the past 70 years has been credibly accused of sex abuse.
This staggering statistic shows how deep the problems have run in the Catholic Church. In compiling the list, the Church looked at the files of roughly 50 priests who were connected with allegations of sexual abuse, and many of those were never found responsible for their inappropriate actions.
Many childhood sexual abuse claims have resulted from a pattern of horrific conduct at the St. Joseph’s orphanage run by the diocese. For decades, the abuse of young people was unspeakable and for a long time, it was both physical and sexual.
Aggravated Sexual Assault
The Roman Catholic Church, under the guidance of Bishop Christopher Coyne, is facing new allegations of sexual abuse occurring at the former Burlington St. Joseph's orphanage.
Recent reports indicate that children at the St. Joseph’s orphanage were beaten, raped, burned, and thrown into the water to possibly drown. The Catholic Church attempted to defend its failure to protect survivors of childhood sexual abuse.
Even the former Bishop of Providence has been accused of abuse in connection with his time at the orphanage. The investigation into the orphanage is still happening 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 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 coverup of credible allegations of church sex abuse. Bishop Christopher Coyne said that "anybody who had been touched by the scandal in any way is tainted because it is so sinful, so bad."
Recent Vermont Catholic Childhood Sexual Abuse Case
In May 2021, the Roman Catholic Burlington Diocese was served with another personal injury lawsuit alleging that a clergy member had sexually assaulted a young male during the 1970s. The lawsuit, filed by the sexual abuse survivor alleges that Church officials negligently hired Rev. Leo Courcy who had a history of sexual abuse and was repeatedly reassigned to different parishes throughout the country.
Lawsuit documents that the priest had sexually prayed on the young boy when he was assigned to perform religious duties in New Jersey. The document claims that Church officials purposely concealed "the horrific misdeeds of diocesan priests" and had "misrepresented to the plaintiff, parishioners, and the general public that it had addressed all allegations of clergy sexual abuse swiftly and immediately upon learning of them."
The victim alleges that the priest had befriended his family after they had participated in a Catholic marriage retreat. Afterward, the reverend became a frequent guest at the victim's home, celebrating holidays with the sexual abuse survivor's family.
The victim alleges that the sexual assault began in 1978 when he was a young child and that the priest had sexually assaulted the victim on multiple occasions. The victim's personal injury attorneys are seeking monetary damages claiming that the diocese knew that the sexual abuser was allegedly receiving treatment for psychosocial and psychosis issues as far back as the late 1960s.
Evidence shows that Corsi had been accused of multiple incidents of sexual abuse in New Mexico. In 2009, the Holy See, under the direction of Pope Benedict XVI, laicized (defrocked) reverend Leo Courcy.
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 question of how much the diocese will have on hand to pay settlements of sexual abuse claims. More sexual abuse survivors are likely to file a civil action now that Vermont law has extended the statute of limitations to file a civil claim.
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 abuse and hiding the priest from justice and prosecution based on sexual abuse criminal statute.
Vermont courts slapped liens on much of the church’s property and investment accounts. The Church ultimately settled a wave of sexual abuse lawsuits in 2010 for over $20 million and sold off some of its property to do so. Nonetheless, 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. The state legislature would not allow the assault of a child to go unpunished.
In 2019, 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 abuse 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 the time limit of six years 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.
The extended time restriction is likely to increase the number of settlements involving abusers and the Catholic Church filed by adults who were Parish members, Catholic school students, summer camp participants, and altar boys.
Sexual abuse survivors, previously barred from filing civil lawsuits are likely to receive compensatory and punitive damages involving money for their medical bills, and mental health treatments to deal with the shame, guilt, anguish, humiliation, and depression associated with the offense.
Damages in a Vermont Sex Abuse Lawsuit
Sexual abuse survivors can file a case in court seeking financial compensation for the priest sex abuse that they endured. Civil lawsuits are filed to recover numerous damages from the clergy member and the Catholic Church, including:
- Pain and suffering damages,
- The cost of psychiatric care for treating the emotional trauma involving sexual assault, sexual violence, child exploitation, and other criminal activity by the clergy member
- The costs of care from a medical professional involving physical injuries from the molestation
- Lost wages if the victim's anxiety interferes with their ability to earn a living
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of consortium
Even if predator priests never face criminal charges, or win their criminal case, sexually abused survivors can pursue justice in civil court to hold their abusers accountable for monetary compensation.
The Church can also be held responsible for its lack of accountability when hiring and supervising sexual perpetrators in a position of authority as religious leaders. The American Bar Association has increased its mission to seek justice for victims of sexual assault.
Vermont Survivors of Clergy Abuse Attorneys
The Burlington, Vermont sexual abuse attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC have been helping survivors of sexual violence for years. Our legal team has fought hard against the Burlington diocese to protect our client's legal rights in taking legal action against a clergy member and Church officials who caused them harm.
Our compassionate attorneys understand that winning a case for assault survivors means reconstructing what happened and reproducing facts surrounding the assault showing that priest's sexual crimes more than likely occurred. We know that discussing a crime that might have involved rape, sodomy, oral sex, inappropriate touching, exploitation, or child pornography is difficult to discuss.
We understand the difficulties you'll have talking about being victimized by the sex offender in the anxiety and depression that followed. We are ready to provide legal advice and build a case to present evidence and facts before a judge and jury at trial.
Contact us today at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone call) or use the contact form to schedule a free confidential consultation. Our legal team accepts all cases on a contingency fee basis, meaning we are paid only when we win your case.
We also accept cases where the perpetrator is deceased or has not yet been released from prison. Let us begin working on your case today to ensure you receive a monetary recovery for all damages.
All information you share with our law office remains confidential through an attorney-client relationship.