New Jersey Clergy Abuse Lawyers
Sexual abuse of minors is a horrific crime wherever it occurs. When the abusers are clergy, the path toward healing and justice is especially difficult. Children are brought to church at a tender young age and taught that priests are good, trustworthy people. As a result, young victims of clergy abuse may feel too guilty to tell anyone, or they may be told to keep it a secret. As the full extent of sexual abuse by clergy in the Catholic Church has come to light, survivors have stepped forward to tell their stories at last. A recent law passed by the state of New Jersey gives survivors of sexual abuse more time to file claims and seek justice.
How Does Clergy Abuse Happen?
Like many predators, priests who abuse children often groom their intended victims over time to desensitize them. The following are some examples of predatory behaviors that may precede physical sexual assault:
- Hugging or kissing when the child does not seek physical contact
- Talking about sex or sharing photos of a sexual nature
- Indecent exposure or removing the child’s clothing
During all this, the child may be wracked with confusion and guilt, feeling powerless to resist even when physical sexual assault takes place. The emotional effects from the trauma may linger for years. Yet for many, healing cannot begin until the survivor is ready to name the assailant and talk about the abuse.
How Widespread is New Jersey Clergy Abuse?
Child sex abuse has been reported in parishes across the state of New Jersey. In February 2019, the Diocese of Camden, the Diocese of Trenton, the Diocese of Paterson, and the Archdiocese of Newark issued statements that collectively named 188 priests who were credibly accused of the sexual abuse of minors. More than 100 more names have been released since. These accusations represent stories of New Jersey clergy abuse survivors who have come forward. No doubt many others still suffer in silence.
What Can Clergy Abuse Survivors Do to Start Healing?
Clergy abuse survivors can begin the healing process by telling their stories. They can hold perpetrators accountable by contacting an experienced lawyer and filing a civil lawsuit. Filing a civil claim of abuse also opens the door to receiving financial compensation. Though no monetary award can ever erase the memories of the abuse, it can allow survivors to get the help they need to heal from the consequences. Long-lasting effects may include physical injuries as well as severe anxiety, depression, substance abuse, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). For example, sex abuse statistics indicate that children who were sexually abused are four times more likely to fall into substance abuse.
Financial compensation may include payment for:
- Substance abuse recovery treatment
- Lost wages
- Medical treatments and medications
- Pain and suffering
It may take years before the survivor recognizes that some of the problems he or she has suffered are a result of the childhood trauma of sexual abuse. Making this connection is part of the discovery of harm, and the process of healing it.
New Law Gives New Jersey Clergy Abuse Victims More Time
Survivors of priest sex abuse that occurred decades ago may think it is too late to seek justice, but here is good news. Beginning December 1, 2019 and closing November 2021, survivors of child sexual abuse in New Jersey have a “window” to file a civil claim against the responsible party or parties, regardless of when the abuse occurred. After November 2021, survivors will have up to age 55 or seven years after they discover the abuse. This new law extends the previous New Jersey statute of limitations on sexual abuse claims, which only allowed the victim to file by age 20 or two years after the discovery of harm.
New Jersey Clergy Abuse Lawyers at Williams Cedar Advocate for Survivors of Child Sex Abuse
Now is the time to contact the New Jersey clergy abuse lawyers at Williams Cedar if you or someone you know was sexually abused by a priest, even if it occurred many years ago. We will help you through the difficult process of coming forward to obtain justice during this window of opportunity. With offices conveniently located in Philadelphia and Haddonfield, New Jersey, we represent clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey, including those in Camden, Cherry Hill, Metuchen, Trenton, and nationwide. Contact us online today for a free and confidential consultation or call us at 215-557-0099 or 856-470-9777.