Sexual Abuse of Children By Clergy Results in Lawsuits Against Religious Institutions
The sexual abuse of children by members of the clergy has severe long-term effects on the victims. While filing a lawsuit against abusers and the institutions that protect them cannot undo the emotional and physical trauma, it can provide victims of sexual abuse a modicum of closure and financial assistance.
Sexual abuse of children by clergy members is not limited to one religion. There have been reports of abuse and allegations of protecting abusers by some of the following:
- The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (The Mormon Church)
- The Catholic Church
- Catholic Priests
- Church Elders
- Jehovah’s Witness
- Orthodox Jewish Schools
- The Southern Baptist Church
- Greek Orthodox Church
- Youth Leaders
- Bible Camp Counselors
If a member of the clergy abused you, perhaps you did not report it at the time. Maybe you did, and no one helped you. It is not too late to seek assistance, and you may still have time to seek monetary damages. Call Alonso Krangle LLP to find out more about your legal rights to pursue a claim for clergy sexual abuse.
What is Sexual Abuse?
Sexual abuse of children is particularly egregious in that attackers typically “groom” their victims. They earn the trust of these children and then manipulate them into sexual acts. Members of the clergy and church officials are in a unique position when it comes to the children in their communities. They spend a lot of time with the kids and receive a significant amount of trust and respect because of their religious authority alone. Parents and children alike revere religious figures, especially when the church or temple is central to their lives.
The role of God and religion can make it very difficult for children to resist, report, or even recognize sexual abuse. Clergy often uses the will or wrath of God to encourage or frighten their victims into submission and silence.
Remember, a child cannot consent to sexual activity legally. Sexual abuse of children by the clergy can include some of the following:
- Groping or touching body parts including genitals
- Display of sexual pictures, films, or pornography
- Taking inappropriate photographs
- Asking or forcing a child to perform sex acts
- Inappropriate sexual talk or innuendo
- Exposing oneself
If a member of the clergy sexually abused you, you may have the right to pursue a claim, especially if you reported the abuse and the institution took no action or actively hid your allegations. Call Alonso Krangle, LLP to find out what your legal rights are after you have been harmed by clergy sexual abuse.
Sexual Abuse Of Children Causes Harm That Lasts a Lifetime
Reports of sexual abuse by the clergy are becoming more frequent. As they do, the damages such abuse causes are also becoming more evident. All sexual abuse of children causes injuries for the victims, and the trauma can lead to a lifetime of problems. It seems, however, that sexual abuse by the clergy and the coverup by religious institutions result in an even deeper level of emotional trauma and psychological damage.
Some of the most common injuries to victims of clergy sexual abuse are:
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) – PTSD can last for years after sexual abuse occurs. It causes anxiety, panic, and a wide variety of symptoms. Depression, difficulty forming healthy relationships, substance abuse, and self-destructive behavior frequently accompany PTSD.
Feelings of Betrayal- Because of the role clergy and religion play in the lives of many sexual abuse victims, if they speak up about their abuse, they often face disbelief and secrecy. The victims may fear (or experience) shunning by their religious communities, which encourages them to remain silent about or retract their allegations. Community members often blame the victims because of their faith in the clergy.
The trusting nature of the clergy and God makes the pain for sexual abuse victims that much more profound. Religious leaders are supposed to represent the moral center and pinnacle of “goodness” for the community. When someone uses that to manipulate a child and commit sexual abuse, the result is a level of mistrust, betrayal, and confusion that stays with the victims well into adulthood.
Shame- Because of the shame many victims of sexual abuse feel, it can take decades to disclose the abuse. They might feel like they have “sinned” against God or that they will be punished if they report their abuser. Clergy members who abuse are usually men, and the victims are more often than not, boys. This fact contributes to the shame for the victim because many religions teach that homosexuality is a sin. Prolonged, repressed feelings of guilt contribute to depression, self-harm, and substance abuse.
There is Time to Pursue Remedies Against Clergy Sex Abusers
Research shows that sexual abuse of children, particularly in the Catholic Church, has been happening for decades, and that the church went to great lengths to hide this fact. Clergy sexual abuse does not seem to be going away. But it is still possible for victims to come forward, face their abusers, and try to get the help they need to put the abuse behind them.
Many states, including New York and New Jersey, have revised the statutes of limitations that apply to child sexual abuse cases. These revised time limits are the direct result of the realization that clergy sexual abuse is rampant and that it can take decades for the victims to come to terms with the abuse. The legislation aims to allow victims of child sexual abuse ample time to process and come forward with their allegations.
Contact Us to Find Out If You Have Time to File a Claim For Clergy Sexual Abuse
If you were abused by a member of your church, synagogue, mosque, religious school, youth group or any other clergy or spiritual leader, contact Alonso Krangle, LLP. We can evaluate your case and tell you if you have time to pursue a claim against your abuser and the institution that may have put you in harm’s way.
Call 516-350-5555 today to get a free evaluation of your clergy sexual abuse claim.