Pennsylvania Clergy Abuse Lawyers
Church is meant to be a safe and sacred place for all who enter. For many children though, church was the place where they suffered unspeakable abuse at the hands of those whom they should have been able to trust. Catholic priests and other religious figures have used their positions of authority to perpetrate and then cover up these crimes, causing a profound and lasting impact on the lives of countless innocent victims.
Clergy abuse can happen anywhere – most notoriously in the Catholic church. Victims have been abused during confession, in the priest or pastor’s private chambers, or even in their own homes.
Types of Abuse
Abuse includes various inappropriate behaviors including:
- Indecent exposure
- Sexual harassment
- Sexual language or jokes
- Sharing of pornographic images or video with a child
- Unsolicited/non-consensual touching
- Making threats to get victims to comply or keep the abuse a secret
The Struggle to Cope with Abuse
When children suffer abuse at the hands of someone they trust, the struggle to cope with that violation can affect the rest of their lives. The lasting impact of abuse can manifest in the form of:
- Anxiety disorders
- Damaged relationships/lack of relationships
- Eating disorders
- Feelings of guilt, shame and self-loathing
- Isolation/ avoidance of sex and intimacy
- Sleep disorders
- Self-harm, suicidal tendencies or suicide
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Not only do victims suffer psychologically, but they may also have physical injuries as a result of the abuse, including sexually transmitted diseases, chronic pain, cervical cancer, gastrointestinal disorders, genital injuries and gynecological complications.
History of Clergy Abuse
There is a longstanding history of clergy abuse throughout the country. Sex abuse statistics reveal that one in five girls and one in 20 boys has been a victim of child sexual abuse. Experts estimate that approximately 100,000 boys and girls in the U.S. have been sexually abused by Catholic priests.
Most recently, the Pennsylvania Attorney General released a report revealing the sexual abuse committed by more than 300 Catholic priests in the state. However, because abuse is often underreported that number is likely in the thousands.
The document exposed widespread abuse across Pennsylvania that was swept under the rug by church officials who placed the reputation and financial standing of their institutions above the rights of victims. Accusers were ignored, and offenders were shuffled off to other locations to cover up the rampant sexual abuse, leaving victims to suffer in silence.
The Deadline to File a Claim
In Pennsylvania, the statute of limitations prohibits survivors from filing criminal charges after age 50 and civil claims after age 30, provided the claim was viable as of 2002. This law has left many survivors without the power to seek redress for the crimes committed against them, including nearly all the victims affected in the grand jury report.
The Pennsylvania General Assembly is currently considering allowing civil lawsuits to be filed up until survivors’ 50th birthday or alternatively during a two-year window, regardless of how long ago the abuse occurred. The bill also proposes lifting the age limit for criminal lawsuits entirely.
The Importance of Holding Abusers Accountable and How We Can Help
It is critical that survivors of clergy abuse stand up for their rights and seek justice for the abuse they endured. Prevailing in a civil claim can provide much needed financial compensation for pain and suffering, medical care and psychological counseling. Coming forward can also help protect others from abuse in the future.
Once a lawsuit is filed, the church must comply with legal procedures and can no longer operate in the shadows. The Philadelphia clergy abuse lawyers at Williams Cedar are dedicated to exposing clergy abuse and putting an end to it. We will fight to get justice for victims who suffered abuse at the hands of a priest, pastor, clergy-member or other church official.
Pennsylvania Clergy Abuse Lawyers at Williams Cedar Provide Compassionate Representation to Victims of Sexual Abuse
If you or someone you love was the victim of clergy abuse, contact a compassionate Pennsylvania clergy abuse lawyer at Williams Cedar. We understand the sensitive nature of these cases and we will provide you with the skilled and zealous representation you need to prevail in your case, heal and move on with your life. Please call us at 215-557-0099 or contact us online for a free and confidential consultation.
We represent survivors throughout Pennsylvania including but not limited to Allentown, Eerie, Greensburg, Harrisburg, Johnstown, Pittsburgh, Scranton, and Wilkes-Barre. From our offices in Philadelphia and Haddonfield, New Jersey, we can assist clients nationwide.