Clergy Sexual Abuse Lawsuit: A Comprehensive Guide (2024)

Gene Glarosh

Contributor

Reviewed By Adam Ramirez, J.D.

Editor

The church is supposed to be a refuge for those seeking spirituality, guidance, and peace. But in many churches, the church has become a refuge for sexual abusers.

In particular, churches like the Catholic Church have attracted and, in some cases, protected child sexual abusers.

This went on for decades. And now, the church is seeing its proverbial chickens come home to roost: Thousands of victims are filing clergy abuse lawsuits.

By and large, these lawsuits aim to recover compensation for the immense and profound damage clergy abuse can do to an individual’s life. In many cases, victims have lived with emotional and physical scars for decades before they seek justice.

Abuse is bad enough on its own. But when it is carried out by someone as revered as a priest, clergyman, or other church official, it’s downright hideous. And something has to be done.

That’s why it gives the team at ConsumerShield great satisfaction to help victims of church abuse seek justice by connecting them with attorneys who can truly help them win their clergy abuse lawsuits.

There is no need to go another day without pursuing justice against the church or church official who harmed you. There is no need to continue suffering in silence. And there is no need to fear when you’re partnered with a legal professional who can protect your best interests and hold the wrongdoers accountable. Contact ConsumerShield to get started today.

Clergy Sexual Abuse Lawsuit Updates

  1. The Diocese of Pittsburgh, 2021
  2. The Jehovah’s Witnesses, Montana, 2018

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What is the Clergy Sexual Abuse Lawsuit?

Clergy sexual abuse lawsuits refer to legal action against any kind of religious institution for sexual abuse that occurred as a result of the institution’s lack of oversight, poor hiring practices, negligent actions, or intentional actions.

Often, these lawsuits are brought against churches themselves, as well as individuals within the clergy, including but not limited to:

  • Priests
  • Pastors
  • Ministers
  • Rabbis
  • Youth pastors
  • Church deacons
  • Church support staff
  • Church school officials

Sadly, clergy abuse sexual lawsuits often refer to sexual abuse that a clergy member allegedly perpetrated against a child or other vulnerable person. And the alleged abuse in question usually took place within the religious institution itself or in a related building, such as a school or orphanage.

What are the statistics of abuse in the church?

The statistics of abuse in the church reveal a significant issue across different denominations. In the Roman Catholic Church, there have been an estimated 16,000 victims involving 3,700 clergy, with over $3 billion paid in victim compensation. In Protestant Christian churches in the U.S., three large faith-based insurance companies reported 7,095 insurance claims of sexual abuse from 1987 to 2007, averaging 260 claims per year. A study identified 326 cases of sexual abuse in U.S. Protestant settings from 1999 to 2014. Additionally, the Southern Baptist Convention had 380 identified sexual abusers and 700 alleged victims over 20 years. A survey indicated that 10% of American Protestants under 35 have left the church due to unaddressed sexual misconduct and abuse issues.

Claims Made in Clergy Sex Abuse Lawsuits

Some common claims in clergy abuse lawsuits include the following:

  • Sexual abuse. Plaintiffs allege that clergy members engaged in sexual misconduct, molestation, or rape against them or other victims, often over an extended period of time.
  • Negligence. Clergy sexual abuse lawsuits may assert that religious institutions were negligent in their hiring, supervision, or training of clergy members. And that this negligence allowed abuse to occur or continue unchecked.
  • Failure to report. In some cases, plaintiffs claim that religious institutions failed to report allegations of abuse to law enforcement or other authorities, thereby enabling perpetrators to avoid accountability and continue their abusive behavior.
  • Emotional and psychological harm. Plaintiffs seek compensation for the emotional distress, psychological trauma, and other long-term consequences resulting from the abuse.

These lawsuits aim to hold both individual clergy members and the institutions that employed them accountable for the harm caused to survivors of abuse.

Clergy abuse lawsuits have been prominent within the Catholic Church, but allegations of abuse have also surfaced in other religious denominations and faith communities, including various other Christian and non-Christian denominations.

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How Are Clergy Abuse Victims Compensated?

Depending on the circumstances of their case and the laws in their state, victims of church sexual abuse may be able to seek damages for medical expenses, therapy costs, lost wages, pain and suffering, and punitive damages to deter similar misconduct in the future.

This compensation may come through one of several legal avenues, including civil lawsuits, settlement agreements, and victim compensation funds established by religious institutions or government entities.

Compensation in clergy abuse lawsuits can take several forms:

  • Damages. Victims may be awarded compensatory damages to cover tangible losses such as medical expenses, therapy costs, lost wages or earning capacity, and other financial burdens incurred as a result of the abuse.
  • Pain and suffering. Compensatory damages may also include non-economic damages for the physical and emotional pain, suffering, and trauma you experienced.
  • Punitive damages. In cases of egregious misconduct or institutional negligence, courts may award punitive damages to punish the defendants and deter similar behavior in the future.
  • Settlements. Many clergy abuse cases are resolved through out-of-court settlements, in which the victim agrees to accept a negotiated sum of money in exchange for dropping the lawsuit. Settlements can offer victims faster resolution and avoid the uncertainties and emotional toll of a trial.
  • Victim compensation funds. Some religious institutions, such as the Catholic Church, have established compensation funds to provide financial assistance to clergy abuse survivors. These funds may offer compensation regardless of whether the statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit has expired.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Yes, a clergy sexual abuse lawsuit can still be filed even if the perpetrator has passed away. In such cases, the lawsuit would typically be directed towards the religious institution that enabled the abuse or failed to take adequate measures to prevent it.

  • To sue a church for sexual abuse, ConsumerShield can assist you through the process. The first step is to reach out to ConsumerShield by completing the free case review form provided on their platform. After submitting your information, a member of their intake team or a representative from a partnered law firm will promptly contact you to guide you through the subsequent steps, including a detailed claim review and connecting you with experienced attorneys and medical experts who will handle the legal complexities on your behalf. This allows you to focus on your health and well-being while pursuing justice.

  • The average settlement for clergy abuse cases is approximately $268,000 to $400,000, according to various sources including BishopAccountability.org and legal firms. However, this amount can vary widely depending on the specifics of each case. To date, Catholic dioceses in the U.S. have paid over $3 billion in compensation to sexual abuse victims.

  • The legal fees of the attorneys will vary as per the complexity of the lawsuits.ConsumerShield'snetwork of attorneys operates under a contingency fee system, meaning that you only pay if we successfully secure compensation for you. To begin, we provide a free consultation to understand your case and its specifics. Our team collaborates with highly skilled and experienced lawyers who specialize in handling cases related to lawsuits involving the Catholic Church.Rest assured, we are committed to matching your case with attorneys who are utmost professionals and who will propose a fee arrangement aligned with your best interests. Our aim is to work together with transparency and fairness to establish a fee structure that suits your needs.

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