Filing Clergy Sex Abuse Lawsuits Within the Statute of Limitations

Lawyers File Claims Against Clergy for Child Sexual Abuse

Each clergy child sex abuse case is unique. The facts differ from case to case. Some may involve criminal acts and charges, while others are strictly civil matters. Regardless of the individual details of sexual abuse and the parties affected, when litigation results, the processes are often the same.

Determining if you have a claim against a church, temple, or another religious institution is something you should do with the help of an attorney experienced in handling clergy sex abuse cases. Alonso Krangle, LLP can provide you with a free, confidential consultation to find out if you are eligible to file a lawsuit. Let us help you collect compensation for injuries caused by sexual abuse by a rabbi, priest, minister, or other clergy.

Statute of Limitations

The first step in determining whether you may pursue a legal claim for sex abuse by a member of the clergy is checking the “statute of limitations” (the timeframe in which you must file your lawsuit). Civil actions have a defined time limit during which you may file a case. There is also a time limit on pursuing criminal charges. If your suit is filed after the statute of limitations has expired, you lose any legal rights you may have had to collect monetary damages.

Fortunately, the New York Child Victim’s Act has recently extended the time frame for child victims to bring claims. However, there is a short window of opportunity to bring these cases. The time to act is now.

How is a Statute of Limitations Calculated?

For many civil cases, the statute of limitations begins the moment the wrongful act occurs. For example, in a lawsuit for injuries suffered in a car accident, the statute of limitations might start the day of the crash. A medical malpractice case might begin the date of the surgery or the later date when a complication arises.

Child sexual abuse is unique. Acts of sexual abuse by the clergy often happen when someone is young. Those acts are often not revealed until years later, sometimes well after the abuse ends and the person is an adult. In recent years, after the revelations about the rampant nature of child sexual abuse occurring in the Catholic church and other religious institutions, it became clear to many that people needed more time to pursue claims.

Studies have shown that many adults were just coming to grips with their sexual abuse, long after the time to seek legal recourse expired.

In New York, like many other states, the legislature has accounted for the delay and extended the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse cases. The New York Child Victim’s Act provides the following for survivors of child sexual abuse:

  • Victims have until the age of 55 to file a civil claim against the abuser or the institution that employed or protected the abuser (the age cutoff was formerly 23)
  • Victims of child abuse who were time-barred under the old statute of limitations will have a one- year period to file claims

The importance of this extension of the statute of limitation cannot be underestimated. It underscores the true nature of the harm sexual abuse causes to children and the adults they become. The legislature recognizes the necessity of giving sexual abuse victims decades to process, seek help, and ultimately gather the strength to face their abusers. This recognition demonstrates a genuine commitment to seeking accountability from sexual predators.

Filing a Lawsuit for Sexual Abuse by a Priest, Rabbi, Minister or other Clergy

Once you and your lawyer determine that you are within the period allowed, you can file a lawsuit against the party or parties that may be responsible for the abuse. The facts of your case will determine who or what entity to pursue and what the legal issues are. While there are countless scenarios of abuse, some examples include:

  • You may sue the Catholic church that exposed you to a priest known to be a sexual predator
  • You may sue the synagogue who hired a pedophile as a teacher, a fact easily discoverable by a simple background check.
  • Perhaps a youth minister at bible camp sexually abused you, and when you told someone, nothing was done. You may be able to sue the camp, the minister and/or the larger religious entity.

Discovery Process and Gathering Evidence

This is where the right lawyer can provide the most help. You are dealing with the emotional trauma of what occurred. Your trust was shattered, and the sexual abuse you endured at the hands of the clergy has impacted your life in countless negative ways. Now that you have decided to pursue legal remedies, it may cause some of the issues you have been working through to resurface. Leave the investigating and interviewing to your attorney.

Discovery can involve exchanging documents, answering questions, depositions, motions, court appearances, and more. The issues can be sensitive and include details that are difficult for you to revisit. You want your lawyer to have compassion and sensitivity to help ease this process for you but the determination and ability to ensure you get the maximum monetary compensation you deserve. The attorneys at Alonso Krangle, LLP are those lawyers.

Settlement or Trial?

Many cases of sexual abuse involving priests in the Catholic church and other clergies are settling. As more and more reports of child sexual abuse emerge, some churches are establishing funds to help compensate the victims.

An alternative to resolving the case is taking it to trial. If that is the path that you choose, you may have the opportunity to face your abuser in a court of law and make a public record of your story. While this may be difficult for you, it can be an essential part of the recovery process for some victims of child sexual abuse. The chance to have a judge or jury validate your claims and publicly hold someone accountable for what happened to you can be healing. Receiving a monetary award from the court adds to that feeling of victory and can ease some of the pain you have suffered throughout the years.

What kind of Damages Can You Get?

Surely the injuries caused by child sexual abuse are numerous. It causes emotional and mental health challenges, depression, and PTSD, any of which can result in job insecurity, financial losses, medical costs, and more. In a civil lawsuit for clergy sexual abuse, you might collect monetary damages related to the following:

  • In-patient psychological counseling
  • Out-patient emotional/psychological therapy
  • Addiction therapy
  • Medical costs
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Pain and Suffering
  • Lost wages
  • Punitive damages

Contact Alonso Krangle, LLP For Help with Your Clergy Sexual Abuse Claim.

Were you molested as a child by someone at your church? Did a religious school teacher ask you to do something inappropriate? Do you remember feeling uncomfortable with one of the adults in your religious community? If so, you may have been the victim of child sexual abuse.

To find out if you have a claim, call Alonso Krangle, LLP today at 516-350-5555. We will provide you with a free and confidential consultation. Speak with our attorneys and find out if you are eligible to collect compensation for clergy sexual abuse.