How Clergy Sexually Abuse Kids

Sexual Abuse by Priests, Rabbis, Ministers, and Other Clergy Exploit Trusting Victims

Sexual abuse by a priest, minister, rabbi, or other clergy member is a living nightmare for the victims. It can lead to a lifetime of problems brought on by the shame, guilt, and confusion often associated with child sexual abuse. These feelings are exacerbated when the abuser is someone a child knows and trusts. The realization that someone with whom a child felt safe is trying to hurt them can cause emotional trauma that never goes away.

Sexual abuse by a member of the clergy, in any faith, can be especially difficult on the child victim. Considering the role of religion in the lives of many people, being the victim of sexual abuse at the hands of a religious leader or teacher can devastate a child. When a religious institution fails to protect that child and turns a blind eye to the abuse, it can shatter the life of the victim. They may defend the accused, protect and shield him, and put more children in harm’s way,

If a member of the clergy took advantage of you and sexually abused you, contact Alonso Krangle, LLP to find out if you can file a civil lawsuit. You might be able to collect monetary damages for injuries caused by the abuse. It won’t change what happened, but holding your abuser accountable can help you begin to recover, regain control over your life and prevent them from harming other children.

Clergy Members “Groom” Victims

When abuse occurs in religious institutions, the abuser and the victim often have an existing relationship. Consider how many victims of child abuse suffer at the hands of coaches, teachers, and family members. Many of these sexual offenders “groom” their victims – purposefully exploiting a child by drawing him or her into a trusting relationship – making sexual abuse “easier” to perpetrate.

The process of grooming ensures that the victim and abuser develop a bond. When sexual abuse begins, the victim may feel like he or she can’t do anything about it. The child may even feel like the activity is normal. Because the child cares and trusts the adult, he or she may be reluctant to tell anyone about the abuse. Grooming can also attack a child’s self-esteem and isolate the victim, making it even more difficult to report the abuse.

Consider the relationship between the clergy or other religious authorities and children. In all faiths, these adults play an integral role in the lives of the young people in their congregations.

Religious classes, Sabbath services, youth group events, and bible study camps are all places where children learn to respect the leaders of their religious communities. Many families encourage their kids to become entrenched in these activities and to have deep faith in the adults who conduct them. The church can be the center of all social and educational events.

When the community, including the children, inherently trust the leaders of their religious institutions, the result is ample opportunity for these leaders to abuse their young members sexually.

What are Some Examples of Sexual Abuse by the Clergy?

Now that more victims of child sex abuse are coming forward and holding the clergy and churches responsible for their actions, it is becoming clear that a trusted religious leader can irreparably harm a child. What was once unfathomable is now something that every adult must consider when their children become involved in religious activities.

Recognizing when sexual abuse is occurring is not easy. Some allegations of sexual abuse of a child by a priest, rabbi, minister or other clergy include:

  • A group of priests asking a young boy to remove his shirt and get on the bed to take photos of him, making an analogy to Jesus on the cross and telling him the images would be used to create religious statues.
  • A clergy member promising a boy that rinsing his mouth with holy water would purify him after the priest sexually assaulted him.
  • A priest assaulting an altar boy more than 20 times, telling the child that he had to confess so he (the child) could receive absolution for his (the child’s!) sins.
  • A clergy member grooming children in his church, by distorting stories from the bible to make them think that performing oral sex was appropriate

Many sexual abusers use phrases or objects related to god and religion to confuse further and shame their victims. There are many reports where religious leaders tell children that the acts are “God’s will” or that because the clergy is an “extension of God” their behavior is ok. Alternatively, they may tell children god will punish them if they “tattle” or that no one will believe them because the clergy preaches “God’s word.”

These are examples of gross acts of manipulation that contribute to the guilt, shame, and confusion that go hand in hand with child sexual abuse. There are countless examples of how this can occur.

Statute of Limitations for Clergy Sexual Abuse Cases

If you were abused by a clergy member as a child and have experienced injuries- emotional, financial, or physical, you may be able to file a lawsuit to collect monetary damages. You may be able to hold the religious institution liable for the abuse. If a church, mosque, temple, religious school, or any other institution tried to hide the abuse or failed to protect you, they should be held responsible.

You may still have time to file a case, especially since New York has extended the statute of limitations. Although the New York Child Victim’s Act gives victims of child sexual abuse until age 55 to file a civil case, we can’t know if you qualify until we hear the facts of your case.

Contact Alonso Krangle to Find Out if you Have a Clergy Sex Abuse Case.

Call our clergy sexual abuse lawyers at Alonso Krangle, LLP at 516-350-5555 for a free evaluation of your sex abuse claim. We will gladly provide you with a free, confidential consultation and help you determine the best way to proceed with your claim. We want to ensure that you receive the maximum amount of damages the law allows for those injured in sexual abuse by the clergy.