Our Lawyers Are Reviewing Clergy Sexual Abuse Lawsuits
Many people think that the only victims of sexual abuse by clergy are children.
The scandal that rocked the Catholic church in recent years involved thousands of credible allegations of sexual abuse against kids. Those kids, many of whom are now adults, were given a grace period to file lawsuits against their abusers and those institutions that protected them. In NY, that law was called the Child Victims Act, and it lifted the statute of limitations to allow previously time-barred lawsuits to commence.
Now, it has become clear that clergy members have also victimized adults. For example, the Southern Baptist Convention just released a report of hundreds of credible allegations of sexual abuse within their ranks – of children and adults alike. Surely, there are more to come.
NY has once again come to the aid of sexual abuse victims. The state recently passed the Adult Survivors Act, which will give people one year to file previously time-barred lawsuits related to sexual abuse that occurred when they were 18 or older.
If you have been the victim of sexual abuse by a member of the clergy, a priest, minister, rabbi, pastor, or church elder, that occurred when you were an adult, call Alonso Krangle, LLP today to find out if you are eligible to file a lawsuit. You might be entitled to collect damages from your abuser and the institution that protected them.
The passage of the Adult Survivors Act creates a timely opportunity for us to examine adult sexual abuse by clergy members and how survivors can take advantage of the law to seek compensation for their injuries.
Clergy Sexual Abuse in New York
Who are we referring to when we say sexual abuse by “clergy?” Clergy refers to people who are ordained for religious work. Many people equate the word clergy with Christianity, especially Catholicism.
But clergy can apply to any religion. In the context of sexual abuse, clergy can refer to some of the following:
When we speak about sexual abuse by clergy, there are sometimes other church members we include that might be ordained as clergy. For example, church leaders, youth group leaders, and other employees of churches, temples, and mosques are often perpetrators of sexual abuse.
How Do Clergy Sexually Abuse Adults?
The relationship between congregation members and religious leaders is often one of trust. But, like children, adults can be vulnerable to manipulation by anyone seeking to commit sexual abuse or sexual assault. Sexual abuse of a person at any age often involves multiple layers of manipulation, betrayal, and exploitation by the perpetrator.
Many adults seek many things from their religious affiliation. They tend to desire a sense of community, safety, belonging, and support.
They might be looking for comfort after a loss or someone to help them find purpose. These desires result in fulfilling, healthy relationships with the chosen congregation and leaders in a perfect world.
These desires can also create opportunities for predators to groom adults for abuse or to commit sexual assault. Clergy can create opportunities and environments that can lead to the sexual abuse of adults. According to SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests), clergy members employ five tactics to abuse adults. They isolate, create doubt, praise submission, foster fear, and secure silence.
Isolation – Clergy members might criticize your family and friends or pull you away from group activities for “more important work.” They might try to make you feel more special and different from everyone else. Clergy members might also share personal or privileged information with you to reinforce this.
Doubt – Clergy members might act in ways that make you doubt the nature of your relationship. They might engage in conversation that might be construed as flirtatious or touch you in a way that feels ambiguously sexual in nature. They might also ask you personal questions about your marriage, dating life, or sexual experiences.
Submission: You might be encouraged to be submissive; to god, the congregation, or the greater good. Clergy members often teach about submission as a virtue.
Fear: You might be told god will punish you if you say “no” or tell anyone about the sexual abuse. You might be threatened with expulsion from the congregation. Your abuser might tell you that you are a sinner and that everyone will shun you. sinner
Silence: Sexual abusers can use shame and blame to keep their victims silent.
What is Sexual Abuse of Adults by Clergy?
Sexual abuse occurs when a person with power or authority sexually exploits someone to satisfy their needs.
It can include:
- Unwanted sexual talk
- Forced viewing of sexual pictures, sex acts, or pornography
- Unwanted sexual touching
- Forced or unwanted sexual contact, including fondling
- Unwanted sexual advances or propositions
- Attempted rape
What Injuries Are Caused By Clergy Sexual Abuse In NY?
Survivors of clergy sexual abuse as adults report various injuries, not that different from the injuries to children. The trauma from being abused by a trusted priest, rabbi, minister, or other religious leader is very deep. Injuries often include:
- Unhealthy or ruined relationships with others
- Difficulty getting or keeping a job
- Suicidal ideation
- Criminal behavior
- Physical injuries like bruises, lacerations, internal injuries, STDs
Survivors of clergy sexual abuse have to fight through these injuries to try and maintain some sense of normalcy. Doing so can be nearly impossible for many victims. The trauma of being sexually abused or sexually assaulted by someone they trust is something some people never get past.
How Filing Clergy Sexual Abuse Lawsuits Can Help Survivors
Nothing you do can change the past. But, filing a clergy sexual abuse lawsuit can help some survivors heal from the wounds inflicted on them.
Filing a lawsuit against the person who abused you can result in compensation. You might also be able to file a claim against the institution that failed to protect you. For example, we know that the Southern Baptist Convention withheld information about alleged sex abusers in its ranks. The Catholic church did the same and has paid millions to sexual abuse victims.
Many survivors file clergy sexual abuse lawsuits to seek accountability. They want someone to take responsibility for what happened to them. Filing a lawsuit can allow victims of sexual abuse to demand answers from their abuser and expose those who failed to protect them.
Closure is another benefit to filing a clergy sex abuse lawsuit. Some sexual abuse survivors report feeling a sense of closure when their lawsuits are filed and settled.
Confronting clergy sexual abuse can take years. The injuries to adults and children can alter the course of their lives. None of the above will erase what occurred. But, compensation, accountability, and closure might make it a little easier to move forward and begin to put the past behind you.
What is The New York Adult Survivors Act, and How Can It Help?
The statute of limitations for sexual abuse and sexual assault lawsuits is generally quite short. However, the New York Adult Survivors Act (ASA) is giving victims of clergy sexual abuse a second chance to collect compensation.
The ASA provides a one-year look-back window for victims of adult sexual abuse. The window closes on November 24, 2023. This means you will have until then to file a lawsuit and try to collect damages from your abuser and the institution that protected them – even if the statute of limitations has expired.
Can You File a Clergy Sexual Abuse Lawsuit?
Were you 18 or older when a priest, pastor, minister, rabbi, sheik, or another religious leader sexually assaulted or sexually abused you? If so, you might be eligible to file a civil lawsuit in NY.
What Compensation Can You Get?
Compensation is never guaranteed. However, an award for damages in a NY clergy sexual abuse lawsuit might include compensation for:
- Lost wages
- Lost future income
- Pain and suffering
- Medical expenses
- Therapies and medications
- Hospital or rehabilitation bills
- Punitive damages
Call Our NY Clergy Sexual Abuse Lawyers For a Free Case Evaluation
Our lawyers at Alonso Krangle, LLP are currently reviewing NY clergy sexual abuse lawsuits. Call us today at 800-403-6191 to schedule your free consultation. We want to ensure that you collect the maximum compensation allowed by law.