How Long do I have to File a Clergy Abuse Lawsuit in Illinois?

Posted on: October 14, 2020 Catholic Church Sexual Abuse

How long you have to file a clergy abuse lawsuit in Illinois is a common question. For some Illinois clergy abuse survivors, it may take years, even decades, to recall the abuse since traumatic events suffered as a child are often suppressed. Even survivors who haven’t repressed those memories often still need many years to process the pain and receive treatment or counseling before they are ready to share their stories.

Whatever the situation, if a survivor decides to seek accountably through compensation, years, or even decades after the abuse, they may wonder if it is too late to file a clergy abuse lawsuit for childhood sexual abuse in the state of Illinois. The time in which a person has to file a civil claim is set by each state and is commonly referred to as the statute of limitations. Knowing if you can sue the Roman Catholic Church in Illinois will depend on Illinois’s statute of limitation laws.

For informational purposes only, below is a summary of Illinois’s statute of limitations laws. If you have been a victim of child sex abuse, regardless of how long ago the abuse occurred, you should contact an experienced sexual abuse attorney to help you determine if your claim is within statute. There are often outside factors, beyond the laws listed below, that may affect the amount of time you have to file a claim.

Call us now at 1-800-941-7209 for a FREE and PRIVATE consultation.

Illinois Statute of Limitations for Clergy Sexual Abuse

Studies have shown that only about 34% of child-sexual-abuse victims in the United States tell authorities of their abuse before adulthood, which means a large majority of survivors need time before they will come forward, if at all. Since a statute of limitation sets the time frame where legal action can be pursued, the time specified by many states’ statute of limitation laws does not always provide adequate time for childhood victims to file civil claims against their abusers or the organizations responsible, which creates a barrier for survivors to seek justice through the legal system.

In Illinois, however, legislators have been extremely pro-active, passing a number of progressive statute of limitations changes and giving those affected by clergy sexual abuse the time needed and the ability to sue an individual clergy member, and/or the diocese(s) responsible for covering up, or failing to protect children from ongoing abuse.

The summary table below shows Illinois’s current civil statute of limitation laws which dictate how long a survivor of sexual abuse has to file a claim. The 3 general categories associated with statute of limitation limits include:

  1. Age Cap: The ‘Age Cap’ refers to the age in which a childhood sexual abuse victim has to file a claim. In Illinois, the age cap was removed in 2014.
  2. Discovery Rule: Some states include a ‘Discovery Rule’ as part of their statute of limitations laws which allows victims, who have suppressed the memories of their abuse, the opportunity to still file a claim once the connection is made rather than based on their age or the amount of time since the incident occurred. Since Illinois has no age cap, the discovery rule becomes irrelevant.
  3. Revival Law: Revival law, commonly referred to as creating a ‘Revival Window’, allows victims that previously would have fallen outside the current, and any new statute of limitations laws, a finite amount of time to file their claims. In Illinois, there is no current revival window law in effect.

How Long to File Illinois Priest Abuse Lawsuit

More information about Illinois’s civil and criminal statute laws, examples of settlements and payouts, and current news can be found on our main Illinois sexual abuse page.

Compensation for Illinois Clergy Sex Abuse Survivors Outside of Court

Several dioceses around the country have created Independent Compensation Programs (“ICP”). These compensation programs can be set up by a single diocese, or a group of dioceses often within the same state, who together allow survivors to submit a claim directly with the Catholic Church and avoid filing a legal claim, and going to court. That claim is then reviewed by an independent claims administrator, chosen and approved by the diocese, who then decides if that claim is eligible for compensation through the program.

None of the Illinois dioceses noted below have set up this type of settlement program.

  • Archdiocese of Chicago
  • Diocese of Belleville
  • Diocese of Joliet in Illinois
  • Diocese of Peoria
  • Diocese of Rockford
  • Diocese of Springfield in Illinois

Even though the dioceses in Illinois have not set up any independent compensation programs, it doesn’t mean every case will then need to go to trial or even be filed in court. An experienced clergy sexual abuse attorney can help you fully understand the options available to you in Illinois so that you may proceed with your claim in a way that makes you feel most comfortable.

Sexual Abuse Lawyer for Illinois Clergy Abuse Victims

If you or a loved one were a victim of sexual abuse within the Illinois Dioceses, contact our firm today. Our law firm handles Illinois sexual abuse lawsuits and can help you understand how long you have to file a clergy abuse claim in the state of Illinois. Call us now at 1-800-941-7209 for a FREE and PRIVATE consultation.