If you’ve been sexually abused by a member of the catholic church who has recently passed away, you might ask, “can a church or diocese be held responsible for the actions of a priest?” The answer is, “Yes,” you can file a lawsuit against a church administrator or diocese for the pain and anguish you’ve been forced to endure.
However, taking legal action for clergy sexual abuse can be a complicated process. To get the financial recovery you need to facilitate the healing process, you’ll have to work with an attorney who has experience in sex abuse cases.
White Law PLLC’s lead attorney, Jamie White, has proudly represented victims in nationally recognized sexual abuse cases. He has represented hundreds of Boy Scouts of America victims, clergy sex abuse victims, and other victims of abuse.
Parties That Can Be Held Responsible for Clergy Sex Abuse
If you’re unable to file a lawsuit against the priest, bishop, or member of the church who abused you, there are several other parties who may be held accountable for the abuse you experienced. An attorney can help you determine if you’re eligible to sue one of the following parties for sex abuse:
Sadly, it’s an all too common practice for church administrators to take priests who have been accused of sexual abuse and move them to another parish. When the church shuffles priests between locations to cover up a sexual abuse scandal, it can hurt those who have been abused and put others at risk of abuse.
An administrative staff member at your church may be held accountable for damages if they assisted in concealing your abuse or aided your abuser in avoiding public scrutiny. A lawyer can assess the situation and determine if you should file a sex abuse lawsuit against a church administrator.
Similar to suing a church for sexual abuse, you may also take action against your diocese for covering up abuse and failing to remove an abusive clergy member from their position. If a diocese allowed your abuser to continue practicing and failed to report their actions to the policy, you’ll likely be eligible to file a lawsuit against the diocese.
A Mandated Reporter
If you haven’t heard the term “mandated abuse report,” think of them as a kind of social service worker who is responsible for identifying and reporting abuse. Since children often cannot alert others about the abuse they’re experiencing, abuse reporters are mandated by the state to protect those who can’t report their own abuse.
If an attorney finds that a mandated reporter knew about the sexual abuse you were experiencing but failed to take the proper actions to report it, you may be able to seek financial remedies from the mandated reporter in court.
A Church Attendee
While church attendees aren’t mandated by the state to protect children and vulnerable individuals from sexual assault and abuse, they do owe a duty of care to others. A duty of care is a legal obligation that we all have to take reasonable actions in order to protect others from foreseeable dangers.
Simply put, if a church attendee was aware that a member of the clergy was abusing you, they would have owed you a duty of care to report the abuse to the authorities. If they failed to alert law enforcement about the abuse you were experiencing, there’s a chance you could take legal action against them for damages caused by their breach of the duty of care.
Your Fight Is Our Fight
Damages You Could Obtain by Suing the Church for Sex Abuse
If you win your sex abuse suit against the church or another party and obtain a settlement, there are several damages you might receive. While no amount of money can right the wrongs and erase the pain you’ve endured, a successful case result can offer support on your road to healing and emotional recovery.
You may receive any of the following damages after winning a sex abuse suit against the church, diocese, or another party:
- Cost of medical care to treat sexually transmitted infections or injuries you sustained from the abuse
- Cost of counseling and therapy to process the emotional trauma you’ve been left with
- Pain and suffering, for any physical pain you experienced when your abuse occurred, including current chronic pain
- Emotional distress
- Reduced quality of life
There’s a good chance that you’re not aware of all the damages you could benefit from by suing the church for the sexual abuse you experienced. A skilled lawyer can meet with you to discuss the impact that clergy sexual abuse has had on your life and determine which damages you’re owed.
How Long Do Sex Abuse Victims Have to Sue the Church?
If you’re considering suing the church for sexual abuse that you experienced as a child, you’re probably unsure if your state’s statute of limitations will allow you to do so. A statute of limitations is essentially a deadline for plaintiffs to submit a lawsuit. If they miss their deadline, they could be barred from holding the guilty party accountable.
In Michigan, victims of sexual abuse have three years from their abuse or until their 28 years old to file a lawsuit. However, this strict deadline may change in the near future.
Many states are beginning to extend their statutes for sex abuse, allowing many older plaintiffs to take action for the abuse they endured as children. If you’re not eligible to file a sex abuse suit under the existing statute of limitations, contact an attorney to find out if they can help you pursue damages anyway.
We understand that you may be going through a difficult situation and we are ready to help however we can.
Contact a Compassionate Clergy Sex Abuse Attorney From Our Firm
At White Law PLLC, we understand how difficult it can be to deal with long-term emotional trauma, chronic pain, and other challenges caused by sexual abuse. Trauma from childhood abuse can be a heavy burden to carry, but seeking justice for the abuse you experienced can help you process your emotions and offer a form of healing.
If you’re considering coming forward and suing a church for sex abuse, contact our firm. Our understanding lawyers can guide you through the legal process with patience. They’ll help you determine who can be held responsible for your abuse and work tirelessly to hold them accountable for the pain and emotional suffering you experienced.
We’re Experienced. We Care.
We Exceed Client Expectations.