It seems each day that new allegations of sexual abuse against members of the clergy surface. Allegations of sexual abuse by members of the Roman Catholic Church clergy continue to plague the church. In addition, allegations that the church turned a blind eye to the abuse have resulted in numerous lawsuits against the Catholic Church.
The California clergy sexual abuse attorneys of The Thompson Law Office represent victims of sexual abuse. If you need more information about what to do if you have been abused or a member of the clergy has abused a family member, please contact our office free consultation with an attorney. Call 1-650-513-6111 to speak with a knowledgeable member of our legal team.
Highlights from this article include:
- Sexual Abuse by Members of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles
- California Attorney General Investigates Catholic Church’s Handling of Clergy Sexual Abuse Claims
- Searchable Database of Clergy Members Accused Publicly of Sexual Misconduct
- Catholic Church Announces Compensation Program for Victims of Sexual Abuse by Clergy Members
- Statute of Limitations Extended in California for Clergy Sexual Abuse Cases
- Damages Arising from Sexual Abuse by Priests or Clergy Members
- Concerns of Privacy and Confidentiality in Clergy Sexual Abuse Claims
Sexual Abuse by Members of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles
In response to the sexual abuse allegations by clergy members, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles published a Report to the People of God in 2004. The report was intended to educate members of the church and the public on how the church had addressed sexual abuse allegations in the past. It also explained how the church had changed its policies to deal with clergy sexual abuse allegations effectively.
The report also included a list of names of the priests that had been accused of sexual abuse of minors. The priests on the list had either been credibly accused or publicly accused of sexual abuse. The Report was updated in 2005 and 2008. In response to a 2007 settlement of abuse cases, the Archdiocese Also released personnel files for clergy members who are subject to the settlement. The list of names in the Report had not been updated since 2008, until 2018.
The Archdiocese of Los Angeles issued a 2018 update to the Report, which Included the original list of names and a current update as to the status of each person on the list. The update states that some of the information was current as of February 2019. In addition, the updated report also includes the names of priests accused of sexual misconduct since 2008.
The church may have issued the update partly in response to new investigations into how it handled abuse allegations against clergy members. The church has been accused of wrongdoing in how it handled clergy abuse allegations in the past. For instance, the church has been accused of transferring priests who were accused of sexual abuse to other dioceses.
The church has also faced criticism for failing to report sexual abuse allegations against priests to law enforcement officials. In many cases, the church aggressively fought the release of information or documentation regarding priest sexual abuse claims.
Earlier this year, the state Attorney General’s Office notified the Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles that it was conducting a review of how the church handled sexual misconduct allegations involving minors. The church was informed to preserve various documents related to the sexual abuse allegations.
California Attorney General Investigates Catholic Church’s Handling of Clergy Sexual Abuse Claims
A notation on the California Attorney General’s website states the Department of Justice is gathering information regarding complaints of clergy abuse. Individuals are told to report sexual abuse incidents or sexual misconduct by clergy members by completing an online complaint form. They can also contact the Department of Justice in California by email.
Searchable Database of Clergy Members Accused Publicly of Sexual Misconduct
BishopAccountability.org has a searchable database that contains the names of Catholic clergy members accused of sexually abusing minors in the United States. The database is free to use and can be searched by name, diocese, or state. The website also has other information regarding clergy sexual abuse, including survivors’ accounts, a timeline of major events, in grand jury reports.
Catholic Church Announces Compensation Program for Victims of Sexual Abuse by Clergy Members
In September 2019, six California Catholic dioceses announced a new compensation program for the survivors of child sexual abuse by clergy members, including The Archdiocese of Los Angeles. The other five dioceses participating in the compensation program include Sacramento, Fresno, San Diego, Orange, and San Bernardino.
The Independent Compensation Program (“ICP”) is designed to pay compensation to individuals who were sexually abused as minors by clergy members. The program is voluntary, and claims may be filed for compensation regardless of when the abuse occurred. The program does not bar claims that would be barred by a statute of limitations.
Individuals who wish to file a claim must register with the program through its website on or before January 31, 2020. All claims must be submitted and postmarked no later than March 31, 2020. An independent oversight committee administers the program.
The independent administrators for the program have sole discretion over whether an individual is eligible for the program and how much compensation an individual should receive regarding the clergy sexual abuse allegations. The dioceses are not permitted to reject determinations by the independent administrators.
Before accepting a settlement from the ICP, we strongly encourage individuals to discuss their claims with an experienced California clergy sexual abuse attorney. Recent changes to California’s statutes of limitations regarding sexual abuse claims may give individual additional legal options regarding clergy sexual abuse cases. It is best to explore all legal options with an experienced lawyer before deciding upon a course of action.
However, the deadline to register with the ICP and file claims is approaching very fast. To prevent losing your right to file a claim with the ICP, you should act quickly. For some individuals, settling a clergy sexual abuse claim through the ICP might be the best way to resolve the matter. Speaking with an experienced clergy sexual abuse lawyer in California is the best way to protect your legal rights period
Contact the lawyers of The Thompson Law Office by calling 1-650-513-6111 to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case. We can review all your legal options and discuss the best ways to protect your right to seek fair and just compensation for the terrible wrong committed against you by a member of the clergy.
Statute of Limitations Extended in California for Clergy Sexual Abuse Cases
On October 13, 2019, California Assembly Bill 218 (AB 218) was signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom. The legislation made significant changes in California laws related to the deadlines to file sexual abuse lawsuits. AB 218 significantly impacted the legal options available to the survivors of childhood sexual abuse cases, including the survivors of clergy sexual abuse.
Some of the key provisions contained in AB 218 include:
- Survivors of childhood sexual abuse, including clergy sexual abuse claims, now have until the age of 40 to file civil lawsuits.
- The discovery period for identifying that an illness or psychological injury is the result of childhood sexual abuse increased from three years to five years. Victims of childhood sexual abuse in California now have up to five years from the date the victim realized or should have reasonably known that a condition is the result of sexual abuse to file a civil lawsuit.
- We victims of childhood abuse may seek compensation from any organization, including a church, that permitted or allowed the sexual abuse to occur. This change in the law is important for victims of clergy sexual abuse because it allows them to name the diocese in which the abuse occurred as a defendant in a civil lawsuit.
- The court could require defendants in a civil lawsuit for sexual abuse to pay up to three times the total of actual damages if the defendant attempted to conceal the sexual abuse. This change in the law could be important in clergy sexual abuse cases, if it is proven that the church attempted to cover up the sexual abuse by clergy members.
- A crucial element of AB 218 is the three-year lookback window for previously expired sexual abuse claims. Survivors of childhood sexual abuse claims in California have three years to file a civil lawsuit that cannot be barred by the statute of limitations. The lookback period begins on January 1, 2020. For victims of clergy sexual abuse who are over the age of 40 or have claims that do not qualify under the discovery period rule now have a short window to file a civil lawsuit against the priest and the church.
In light of the changes to the statutes of limitations regarding childhood sexual abuse cases in California, it is highly recommended that individuals seek legal counsel before taking any action regarding claims against the Catholic Church or clergy members.
However, as stated above, the deadline to file claims in the six dioceses covered by the ICP is approaching quickly. Therefore, time is of the essence. Please contact our office as soon as possible to schedule a free consultation with our California clergy sexual assault attorney.
Damages Arising from Sexual Abuse by Priests or Clergy Members
Unfortunately, the judicial system cannot undo the damage inflicted by incidents of sexual misconduct by clergymen. It can award compensation victims of clergy sexual abuse in the form of monetary awards. The value of a clergy sexual abuse claim depends on numerous factors.
Our sexual abuse attorney in California understands the factors involved in calculating how much a clergy sexual abuse claim is worth. Our goal is to maximize the amount of compensation you can receive after being sexually assaulted as a child high priest.
While money cannot take away the pain and suffering you have endured, it can pay for continued therapy or treatments that can help you deal with the emotional scars and mental anguish caused by the sexual misconduct of a priest. A large monetary award can send a powerful message to the church that it needs to be more vigilant in protecting children from sexual abuse by priests and other members of the church.
Concerns of Privacy and Confidentiality in Clergy Sexual Abuse Claims
It can be difficult for an individual to come to terms with childhood sexual abuse, especially when that abuse was at the hands of a trusted member of the church. It can also be difficult to discuss sexual abuse with an attorney.
Many victims of clergy sexual abuse are concerned with matters of privacy and confidentiality. Any information you discuss with our lawyers or members of our legal team is held in the strictest confidence. It is your decision whether to report clergy sexual abuse to law enforcement officials. It is also your decision whether to proceed with a civil claim or lawsuit against the Catholic Church or an individual priest.
Our job is to provide you with the information you need to make a decision that is in your best interests. Should you wish to proceed with a civil lawsuit against a priest or The Catholic Church after hearing our recommendations regarding your claim, we provide the support and guidance you need as you seek to hold the parties responsible for the sexual misconduct liable for their actions annual damages.
During the process, we will do our best to protect your identity and your privacy. Our experienced California sexual abuse attorneys Keep you informed of the progress of your case, including any need or requirement to reveal your identity during the process.
The Lawyers of The Thompson Law Office Fight for Survivors of Clergy Sexual Abuse in California
If you are the victim of sexual abuse by a clergy member, please contact our office to schedule a free consultation with a California sexual abuse lawyer. Call 1-650-513-6111 for more information or to schedule your free case review.