Clergy and religious figures in positions of authority have a responsibility to their communities to guide and serve. Unfortunately, it’s become increasingly apparent that leaders across religions have used their positions and power to sexually abuse those in their care. What’s more, these figures have used the means allotted to them in their positions to hide and deny that abuse.
If you’ve contended with clergy sex abuse in the past, know this: you did nothing wrong. In the face of this betrayal, you have the right to reach out to a clergy sex abuse attorney and discuss your right to legal action.
White Law PLLC’s lead attorney has helped sex abuse survivors bring their cases forward on a national stage. The firm’s history of service includes hundreds of cases addressing clergy sex abuse and sex abuse through the Boy Scouts of America. You can contact our clergy sex abuse lawyers today and rest easier with experienced attorneys tackling your case.
Tackling Clergy Sexual Abuse
Today’s understanding of sexual abuse does not confine itself to rape. You have the right to take legal action against a clergy member who engaged in indecent exposure or:
- Fondled or touched you without consent
- Coerced you into removing your clothing
- Engaged in molestation or otherwise lewd acts
- Sexually harassed or threatened you
You retain your right to legal action against a clergy member if you were coerced into giving that clergy member consent to touch or otherwise interact with you. Similarly, the CDC notes that minors cannot legally consent to sexual acts with non-minors. That means anyone who endured allegedly-consensual sexual abuse as a minor may still have the right to a civil case.
The Crossover Between Civil and Criminal Clergy Sexual Abuse Cases
If you’ve survived clergy sexual assault, you may want to pursue a criminal case as well as a civil one. Unfortunately, you alone can only initiate a civil case. Criminal prosecutors are the only ones who can move a criminal case forward in the wake of clergy sexual abuse.
If a prosecutor initiates criminal proceedings against a clergy member who assaulted you, you can testify against that clergy member when their criminal case moves forward.
Should the person who assaulted you face criminal charges for this misconduct, ask your clergy sex abuse lawyer to keep up with the case. A criminal conviction can serve as proof of misconduct in civil court. As such, that conviction can make it easier for you to secure financial support throughout your recovery.
Liability in Clergy Sexual Abuse Lawsuits
If you want to secure financial assistance in the wake of clergy sexual abuse, you can file a personal injury claim with your local civil judge. Your claim needs to demand damages to help with your recovery while also identifying the party you want to hold responsible for your losses.
That said, assigning liability in a clergy sexual abuse case can be complicated. On the one hand, you have the right to hold an individual responsible for their misconduct. On the other hand, many churches or religious institutions will offer their clergy members legal support in the face of sexual abuse claims.
As such, you can work with a clergy sexual abuse attorney to determine whether you’re holding an individual or an institution responsible for your mistreatment. Some institutions that have already been brought to court on sexual abuse charges include:
- The Church of Scientology
- The Catholic Church
- Boy Scouts of America
- Jehovah’s Witnesses
- Orthodox Judaism (Yeshivas)
- The Church of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons)
- Evangelical Christians
Whether you see your religious institution on this list or not, you can discuss how best to divide liability for your mistreatment with our clergy sex abuse attorneys. We are your allies in your fight for justice.
Clergy Sexual Abuse Compensation
The compensation you deserve in the wake of clergy sexual abuse can’t erase what happened to you. That said, it can help you cover your medical expenses, therapy bills, and even the cost of separating from an abusive religious institution. Our attorneys keep your possible expenses in mind as we estimate the total value of your case’s damage.
As we do the math on your case, we account for losses like:
- Your medical expenses
- Restoration or replacement of property damaged in the incident
- Wages lost while you were/are recovering
- Relocation expenses
- The cost of separating from an abusive religious institution
The damages you demand in a clergy sexual abuse case can also include your emotional distress as well as your pain and suffering. Our clergy sexual abuse lawyers can help establish dollar values for these non-economic losses.
The Trouble With Clergy Sexual Abuse Settlement Offers
You do have the right to arrange out-of-court negotiations with a clergy member and their lawyers. However, when it comes to clergy sexual abuse cases, these negotiations may put you in close proximity to someone who did you bodily and mental harm. With that in mind, you do not have to negotiate for a settlement in clergy sexual abuse cases.
You can instead refute a clergy member’s request for settlement negotiations and instead take your case directly to court. While you may still have to see the offending clergy member in the courtroom, our team can limit your contact. We can also help you pursue a protective order if you want to keep the defense away from you both during and after your case.
Let’s Fight Back Against Clergy Sex Abuse in Civil Court
Clergy across several religions hold a unique, communal power. Unfortunately, some parties can use that power for malicious purposes. Fortunately, stories of sexual abuse and its suppression within religious communities are more often coming to light. As such, more and more survivors have the opportunity to take legal action against the people who harmed them.
If you or someone you know endured clergy sex abuse, contact White Law PLLC today. Our clergy sex abuse attorneys can help you process what happened to you. Together we can file a clergy sex abuse claim in civil court and demand the damages you need to fund your recovery. You can contact our firm by calling our office or reaching out through our digital portal.