Sexual Abuse Lawyers for Priest Molestation Victims
Finding the right sexual abuse lawyer can feel like an overwhelming process, but if you or a loved one was sexually abused by a Catholic priest, we want to help. Our experienced group of sexual abuse lawyers and staff prides itself on helping victims of priest molestation and rape. The information you provide, as well as your identity, will be kept completely confidential until you are ready to move forward.
The vast majority of sexual abuse assaults go unreported in our country. Many of those who were sexually abused as a child or teen have repressed memories of the abuse or do not connect their emotional injuries to the abuse until many years later when they are adults. In those cases, survivors often believe their abuse happened too long ago to receive civil justice, which in many cases, is just not true.
In fact, now more than ever, survivors are feeling empowered to come forward and stand up to their attackers and those entities and institutions that enabled the abusers and allowed these crimes to occur. Those who pursue legal claims against these negligent entities and institutions can help prevent others from becoming victims of sexual predators. Many survivors believe that holding the institution that allowed the abuser to commit these egregious assaults accountable was one of the key steps in the healing process. With more and more predators being prosecuted, survivors are gaining the courage to speak out and seek compensation.
We’ve compiled the information below so that survivors interested in hiring a sexual abuse lawyer know what to expect if they decide to File a Sexual Abuse Claim against the Catholic Church. You can also find a summary of the story surrounding the Catholic Church Sexual Abuse Cover-up and resources that are available to its survivors. In addition, we’ve assembled a list of some of the largest Catholic Church Lawsuit Payments by state below so you can see the magnitude of those affected.
Filing a Sexual Abuse Claim Against
the Catholic Church
The emotional injuries from sexual abuse can last a lifetime. Survivors struggle with depression, anxiety, PTSD and numerous other conditions. With everything that has already happened, the idea of discussing the abuse with an attorney can seem incredibly overwhelming.
Our firm feels strongly that survivors of clergy sexual abuse and priest molestation are entitled to restitution for the horrific abuse they endured as children. While no amount of money can erase what happened, the Catholic Church should take steps to provide compensation to its victims, as well as pay for counseling and support services when needed. Even if the sexual abuse occurred many years ago, and the abused victim is now an adult, filing a claim may still be possible.
We’ve included a step by step outline of the process below so you can get a better idea of what to expect when you contact us. You can reach our office by either filling out the form on your computer screen or phone, or simply calling our toll-free number. We have staff available days, nights and weekends so that we can speak when it’s convenient for you. We know that taking the first step can be extremely overwhelming which is why we want to be available when you are ready to discuss your unique situation.
Step 1 – Your Initial Phone Call with our Staff
Whether you submit a form online, or call us directly, your first phone call will be with one of the two Senior Client Managers we have on staff; Barbara Flowers and Paula Fay. They both focus their time helping victims of Catholic priest molestation. This initial call will likely take about 10-15 minutes. During this call we will gather your contact information and get some general details surrounding the sexual abuse. Typically, we will want to know when and where the abuse occurred and the name of the priest or clergy responsible for the sexual assault. You will not be required to provide explicit details of the abuse if you are not ready to do so. If you don’t remember all the details – it’s ok! – we’ll be able to gather or research the information we need at a later date.
Note that if neither of our Client Managers are available to take your call, you will be directed to a private voicemail box. Simply leave your name, phone number and the best time to reach you and either Barbara or Paula will call you back. If our offices are open, this is usually within 15 minutes. Otherwise, you will be called as soon as we open the following day, or at a time specified by you.
Our office is open and staffed Monday – Friday, from 9am – 8pm EST. On the weekends our staff monitors voicemails and returns calls from 9am – 6pm. You can reach Barbara or Paula by calling 1-800-941-7209.
The information you provide, as well as your identity, will be kept completely confidential until you are ready to move forward. In addition, there is no obligation and the legal consultation is completely free. In fact, our legal team works on a contingency so you will never have to pay any costs or expenses in advance.
Step 2 – Investigating Your Catholic Church Sexual Abuse Claim
The information you provide to our Client Relations Managers will then be reviewed by our lead attorney to determine if we are able to pursue a claim on your behalf against the Catholic Church for sexual abuse. We will review the laws regarding the statute of limitations in your state and any other pertinent information. If we believe we can help, paperwork will be sent to you either in the mail (with a free return envelope), or electronically through DocuSign – whichever you prefer.
Once the paperwork is signed and returned, within a week you will be contacted by one of our sexual assault legal staff, Taylor or Candita, and/or our lead attorney, Derek Braslow. This team will review the information you provided in your original call and try to obtain any additional details they may need. Often times this information will be gathered over the course of a few phone calls as you become more comfortable with them and are ready to share more of your story.
We pride ourselves on delivering a ‘small firm’ experience to our clients. Each client is assigned one Client Relations Manager, one Paralegal and one Attorney for his/her case. You will not be bounced around to multiple staff members or asked to tell your story over and over again to a host of different people. In addition, to make getting in touch with us easy, our clients are provided both office and cell phone numbers to reach the staff assigned to their case.
Step 3 – Obtaining a Sexual Abuse Settlement from the Catholic Church
Deciding how to handle and proceed with your sexual abuse claim will be your decision. Our job as your sexual abuse lawyers is to provide you with all the options available to you.
In some states, programs have been put in place to financially compensate victims of Catholic priest molestation and rape, without the need to file a lawsuit or go to court. However, if your case is still within the statute of limitations set by your state, we may also be able file your case in court (if that is your wish.) If you do not want to file a sexual abuse lawsuit, and no programs are currently available in your state, we may be able to work directly with the dioceses involved in the sexual abuse to negotiate a settlement on your behalf.
Whatever your preference, don’t wait to speak with a sexual abuse attorney. There are legal deadlines associated with every claim. Call us to learn more about your options and let us help you stand up to your abuser and prevent these assaults from happening to others.
Priest Molestation and the Catholic Church Sexual Abuse Cover-up
According to a report by CNN, it is estimated that in the United States alone, over 8,600 survivors have received over $3.8 billion in restitution from the Catholic Church for claims involving allegations of sexual abuse. And while this is an extraordinary number of survivors, experts believe the number of victims is well over 100,000.
Sexual Abuse Statistics
Bishop-accountability.org documented settlements of 5,679 people who alleged sexual abuse by Catholic clergy. While this may seem like an extremely high number of sexual abuse survivors, unfortunately it only represents one-third of the 15,235 allegations of Catholic clergy sexual abuse bishops say they have received through 2009. Astoundingly, these numbers are likely only a fraction of the actual number of victims since most survivors may never come forward and report their abuse. In one 1993 study, Fr. Andrew Greeley estimated there could be as many as 100,000 victims of clergy sexual abuse in the United States alone.
While reports of abuse and priest molestation seem to have declined after the 1990’s, there is a difference of opinion as to why that may be happening. Bishops and the Catholic church will say the decline is due to the fact that they addressed the issue of sexual abuse by clergy in the 80’s and 90’s, meaning there are less instances of sexual abuse by clergy occurring, and therefore less abuse to report. However, many people outside the church believe the reason for the decline is that many victims from that time have yet to come forward. It may take years for a sexual abuse survivor to realize that some of the issues they are dealing with today, may stem from their sexual abuse. Often times victims just aren’t ready to come forward with their stories of molestation and abuse caused by the Catholic church and its clergy. Another explanation for the decline in abuse numbers could be that the Catholic church, in some regions, is still covering up sexual abuse claims. In some dioceses, bishops are still refusing to release names of accused priests or numbers of accusations despite public outcry to do so. Regrettably, this means that the actual number of sexual abuse allegations and victims is probably higher than any published statistics.
Transfer of “Problem Priests”
When allegations of sexual abuse by clergy were brought to churches, one of the ways bishops and different parishes chose to deal with the situation was to transfer the “problem priest” to a different parish. Sometimes the new parish would be in the same state as the abuse allegations but more times than not the accused priest was transferred out of state or even out of the country. Not only were abusers transferred, but some priests who complained of these “problem priests” coming to their parish were also transferred away. Even more alarming is the fact that new parishes were not always made aware of the sexual abuse allegations coming along with the transferred priest, so there was no reason to limit or prohibit their access to children, so the molestation by these priests often continued.
According to a church-sponsored report from 2004:
- In 2002-2003 at least 150 Catholic priests from 56 dioceses who were removed or retired facing credible sexual abuse allegations quietly moved away
- At least 138 of them went to other American dioceses
- In at least 10 cases the offending priests left the country
- In at least four cases bishops claimed they lost track of the abusers
- Some dioceses admitted priests had moved but refused to give exact numbers
Amazingly, all of these moves took place after June 2002 when bishops pledged to “deal with this problem strongly, consistently and effectively in the future.” However, in this report there is no sign that police, prosecutors, parishioners or even church employees were notified about these molesters coming to their parishes.
Due to different dioceses’ decisions on releasing information regarding abusive priests, it is difficult to determine how many abusers were moved in and out of different dioceses. The churches’ silence on these issues certainly enabled these patterns of sexual abuse by clergy to continue.
A Country-wide Problem
A 2003 New York Times survey of documented cases of sexual abuse by clergy through the end of 2002 showed just how widespread sexual abuse and molestation by priests is. There were allegations of abuse in 161 of 177 Catholic dioceses in the United States. Every region of the country was also affected. There were 206 accused priests in the West, 246 in the South, 335 in the Midwest, and 434 in the Northeast.
For dioceses who claimed to have divulged complete lists of abusive priests, the numbers were staggering. For example, 7.7% of priests ordained in Manchester, NH over the past 50 years have been implicated in the sexual abuse of minors. That number was 6.2% in Baltimore and 5.3% in Boston. These percentages are shockingly high and show that churches didn’t do enough to protect their parishioners from abusers.
Exposing Sexual Abuse in the Church
The media played an extensive role in making the public aware of the abuse being suffered by children at the hands of priests. For decades, the Catholic church did all it could to keep allegations of abuse and molestation by its priests out of the public domain. Priests would tell their victims to say nothing about what had been done to them. Parents who complained of their child’s abuse were also told to keep quiet. In Massachusetts, the true picture of the church’s attempt to cover up the abuse came to light when the Boston Globe filed a motion in court to make public church documents being used in civil lawsuits being filed against the church. When the judge ordered the records be made public, the archdiocese appealed the ruling but was denied by the state’s appellate court. These documents helped the Globe’s investigative team piece together the story of how Catholic priests in Boston were sexually abusing children and the church’s attempt to cover up those allegations. This investigation by the Globe and the resulting story are the basis for the 2015 film Spotlight.
Along with the media, the strength of many survivors to stand up against the church have helped make this abuse known to the public. Without their willingness to come forward, it seems as though the church would have been happy to keep sweeping the sexual abuse of children under the rug and allow these abusive priests to be transferred all around the country; providing them access to new pools of potential victims.
Timeline of the Church and Vatican Response
- January 7, 2002, Boston Globe Spotlight article is published detailing the extensive abuse of children by Catholic priests and the church’s attempts to cover up the situation. (Link to articles here)
- In January 26, 2002, Cardinal Bernard Law issues a letter of “apology” regarding how he mishandled reports and accusations of sexual abuse by priests in the diocese. There is no response from the Vatican. (Link to letter here)
- By March 2002, the Vatican response to the sexual abuse of children by priests has been so subdued that a number of people there are barely aware of the American Catholic Church abuse scandal. Americans in the Vatican say its response has been “embarrassingly weak.” (Link to article here)
- Later in March 2002, a Holy Thursday letter from the Pope briefly touches on the abuse scandal but doesn’t speak harshly enough regarding the abusers, nor does he express much of any sympathy for the survivors. His comments on the sexual abuse of children by priests only comprised about 10% of his letter. (Link to article here)
- In April 2002, the Pope issued a more strongly worded response to the abuse, saying it was an “appalling sin” and a crime. (Link to article here)
- In June 2002, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops establishes the “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.” It calls for a zero tolerance for priests who sexually abuse children. However, it fails to address bishops who have covered up cases or allowed abusive priests to remain in ministry. (Link to Charter here)
- In November 2005, the Vatican issued a ridiculous and misguided directive stating the Church cannot admit “to Seminary or Holy Orders those who are actively homosexual, have deep-seated homosexual tendencies, or support the so-called gay culture.” (Link to Directive here)
- In 2014 the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors was instituted by Pope Francis for safeguarding minors. The Commission’s task is to “advise the Roman Pontiff on effective policies for the protection of minors and vulnerable adults and educational programs for all who are involved in this work.” (Link to website here)
- May 2019, Pope Francis issues a new church law requiring all Catholic priests and nuns worldwide to report sexual abuse by clergy and cover-ups to church authorities, however it doesn’t require the crimes be reported to police. Most times the church authority to report the sexual abuse to would be bishops. While this may seem like a step in the right direction, it was bishops who played a prominent role in covering up abuse in the church for decades.
Based on the above timeline, the Vatican and church still seem to be falling short in its efforts; choosing to protect themselves before keeping the children of their churches safe from predator priests. Not mandating that any allegations of abuse be reported to authorities outside the church is asking for the cycles of abuse to continue since the church is clearly unable to police itself. There is no excuse for them not doing more to help stop sexual abuse of children by clergy.
List of Catholic Priest Accused of Molestation
The number of allegations of sexual abuse reported to the Catholic church by 2009 in the United States was over 15,000. In a 1993 report completed by Andrew M. Greeley, a Catholic Priest, professor and journalist, Greeley estimated the number of Catholic church sexual abuse victims was likely closer to 100,000. That would make the percentage of sexual abuse claims that are actually reported staggeringly low; at less than 15%.
While the percentage of claims reported is estimated to be extremely low, the number of priests and clergy accused of sexual abuse and misconduct is in the thousands. We have compiled a list of priests accused of molestation and continue to add to it weekly.
Catholic Church Sexual Abuse Settlements and SOLs by State
Catholic Church sexual abuse lawyers are required to follow the laws set by each state in order to pursue a lawsuit on behalf of a survivor of priest molestation. State laws differ greatly, and therefore the time allowed for an individual to bring a claim of sexual abuse also varies. However, even in states where the statute of limitation appears to be expired, there may be other options for pursuing a sexual abuse lawsuit and obtaining a settlement.
Many lawmakers are currently working to change and improve their state’s SOL laws. While the changes vary by state, some states have already extended the civil SOLs giving victims of childhood sexual abuse a longer time period to file a claim. In some instances, the civil SOL has been totally removed, meaning there are no time restrictions for filing a claim. And finally, in combination with the extended SOL laws, some states have imposed a ‘window’, allowing survivors of childhood sex abuse, whose claims were previously expired under current law, to file their claim within a preset time frame.
Settlements with the Catholic Church are still being reached today for hundreds, if not thousands, of priest molestation survivors. To pursue a claim of your own, call us today 1-800-941-7209.
Sexual Abuse Statute of Limitations Laws by State
Laws regarding sexual abuse lawsuits are governed at the state level and subject to the laws in each individual state. 2019 has been an exemplary year for reform of child sex abuse statute of limitation laws (SOLs). Prior to recent reform, the SOLs in most states were far too short. They barred both criminal and civil claims from being brought against abusers and pedophiles due to arbitrary deadlines for filing a sexual abuse claim.
ChildUSA, a leading non-profit created to end child abuse and neglect, prides itself on ‘producing evidence-based solutions and information needed by policymakers, organizations, media and society as a whole to increase child protection and the common good.’ As part of their efforts, ChildUSA conducted a study which reported on the pace of child sex abuse statute of limitation reform in all 50 states. Each state was given a score based on both its criminal and civil SOL laws to create an average. The scale was based on a score of 0-5, where 1 was the worst and 5 was the best. To learn more about the statute of limitation laws in your state and the rankings by ChildUSA, use the alphabetical quick links below to jump to your state.
Sexual Abuse Settlements by State
According to BishopAccountability.org, Catholic Church sexual abuse lawyers have filed over 3000 lawsuits against the church in the United Sates with some cases resulting in multimillion-dollar settlements. In total, it is estimated that the Catholic Church has paid its victims between $2-3 billion dollars from 1950 to 2007 alone. Some of the largest landmark sexual abuse settlements and Catholic Church payouts are organized below by state.[You can use the alphabetical quick links below to jump to your state.]
Alaska Catholic Church Settlements & State SOL Laws
Notable Alaska Settlements
- $50 million paid in November of 2011 to 110 Alaska natives who alleged sexual abuse by Jesuit priests
Alaska SOL Rating for Sexual Abuse Claims
Alaska was given a rating of 4 out of 5 by ChildUSA for its SOL laws which allow survivors of sexual abuse to file a claim against their abuser.
Click to read more about Alaska Sexual Abuse Lawsuits, Statute of Limitation Laws and Past Settlements
California Catholic Church Settlements & State SOL Laws
Notable California Settlements
- $100 million paid to nearly 90 sexual abuse survivors in 2004 by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange
- $35 million paid to 33 sexual abuse victims in June of 2005 by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Sacramento
- $56 million paid to 56 sexual abuse survivors in August of 2005 by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Oakland
- $28 million paid to 25 sexual abuse survivors in March of 2006 by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles
- $60 million paid to 45 sexual abuse survivors in December of 2006 by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Los Angeles
- $660 million paid to over 500 sexual abuse victims in July of 2007 by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Los Angeles
- $198.1 million paid to 144 childhood sexual abuse victims in September of 2007 by the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego
California SOL Rating for Sexual Abuse Claims
California was given a rating of 4 out of 5 by ChildUSA for its SOL laws which allow survivors of sexual abuse to file a claim against their abuser.
Click to read more about California Sexual Abuse Lawsuits, Statute of Limitation Laws and Past Settlements
Colorado Catholic Church Settlements & State SOL Laws
Notable Colorado Settlements
- $5.5 million paid to 18 sexual abuse survivors in July 2008 by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Denver
Colorado SOL Rating for Sexual Abuse Claims
Colorado was given a rating of 3.5 out of 5 by ChildUSA for its SOL laws which allow survivors of sexual abuse to file a claim against their abuser.
Click to read more about Colorado Sexual Abuse Lawsuits, Statute of Limitation Laws and Past Settlements
Delaware Catholic Church Settlements & State SOL Laws
Notable Delaware Settlements
- $77 million paid to 150 sexual abuse survivors in February of 2011 by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Wilmington
Delaware SOL Rating for Sexual Abuse Claims
Delaware was given a rating of 5 out of 5 by ChildUSA for its SOL laws which allow survivors of sexual abuse to file a claim against their abuser.
Click to read more about Delaware Sexual Abuse Lawsuits, Statute of Limitation Laws and Past Settlements
Iowa Catholic Church Settlements & State SOL Laws
Notable Iowa Settlements
- $37 million paid to 162 sexual abuse victims in December of 2007 by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Davenport as part of a bankruptcy filing by the diocese
Iowa SOL Rating for Sexual Abuse Claims
Iowa was given a rating of 2.5 out of 5 by ChildUSA for its SOL laws which allow survivors of sexual abuse to file a claim against their abuser.
Click to read more about Iowa Sexual Abuse Lawsuits, Statute of Limitation Laws and Past Settlements
Kentucky Catholic Church Settlements & State SOL Laws
Notable Kentucky Settlements
- $25.7 million paid to sexual abuse survivors in July of 2003 by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Louisville to settle 240 lawsuits
- $79 million paid to nearly 250 victims in January of 2006 by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Covington
Kentucky SOL Rating for Sexual Abuse Claims
Kentucky was given a rating of 3.5 out of 5 by ChildUSA for its SOL laws which allow survivors of sexual abuse to file a claim against their abuser.
Click to read more about Kentucky Sexual Abuse Lawsuits, Statute of Limitation Laws and Past Settlements
Massachusetts Catholic Church Settlements & State SOL Laws
Notable Massachusetts Settlements
- $10 million paid to 86 victims in 2002 by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston who were abused by John Geoghan
- $85 million paid to 552 sexual abuse survivors in 2003 by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston
- $33 million paid to over 250 sexual abuse victims in June of 2005 by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston
Massachusetts SOL Rating for Sexual Abuse Claims
Massachusetts was given a rating of 4 out of 5 by ChildUSA for its SOL laws which allow survivors of sexual abuse to file a claim against their abuser.
Click to read more about Massachusetts Sexual Abuse Lawsuits, Statute of Limitation Laws and Past Settlements
Oregon Catholic Church Settlements & State SOL Laws
Notable Oregon Settlements
- $75 million paid to 177 sexual abuse survivors in April of 2007 by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Portland
Oregon SOL Rating for Sexual Abuse Claims
Oregon was given a rating of 2.5 out of 5 by ChildUSA for its SOL laws which allow survivors of sexual abuse to file a claim against their abuser.
Texas Catholic Church Settlements & State SOL Laws
Notable Texas Settlements
- $30.9 million paid to 12 sexual abuse survivors in 1998 by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Dallas
Texas SOL Rating for Sexual Abuse Claims
Texas was given a rating of 3.5 out of 5 by ChildUSA for its SOL laws which allow survivors of sexual abuse to file a claim against their abuser.
Vermont Catholic Church Settlements & State SOL Laws
Notable Vermont Settlements
- $17.6 million paid by the Diocese of Burlington to settle 26 lawsuits against priests in Vermont for child molestation. In addition, as part of the settlement, the Diocese also agreed to settle the cases of 3 former altar boys who won large jury awards at trial, but who’s cases were all being appealed by the diocese.
- $8 million jury award against the Catholic Diocese of Burlington for a former altar boy abused from 1976-1978 while serving at Christ the King Church.
Vermont SOL Rating for Sexual Abuse Claims
Vermont was given a rating of 4.5 out of 5 by ChildUSA for its SOL laws which allow survivors of sexual abuse to file a claim against their abuser.
Click to read more about Vermont Sexual Abuse Lawsuits, Statute of Limitation Laws and Past Settlements
Washington Catholic Church Settlements & State SOL Laws
Notable Washington Settlements
- $48 million paid to 150 sexual abuse victims in January of 2007 by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Spokane
Washington SOL Rating for Sexual Abuse Claims
Washington was given a rating of 3.5 out of 5 by ChildUSA for its SOL laws which allow survivors of sexual abuse to file a claim against their abuser.
Note additional sexual abuse lawsuit and settlement data is continuously being added to our site. Please check back for additional information.
Victims of Priest Rape – Help and Resources are Available
Survivors of priest rape and sexual abuse by clergy should know that support services exist and are available to them. When they are ready, we encourage survivors to seek out and find the support program that suits them best. Every survivors’ experience is different so finding the help and resources they are comfortable with is important. The following is a list of websites for survivors of sexual abuse. Please keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive list and is also not a recommendation or endorsement of any of the following. Survivors should feel free to visit the sites to see if any may be of help to them or could possibly steer them in the direction of an organization that could.
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) – https://www.snapnetwork.org/
Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) – https://www.rainn.org/
Childhelp – https://www.childhelp.org/
Darkness to Light – https://www.d2l.org/
Faith Trust Institute – https://www.faithtrustinstitute.org/
The Healing Voices – https://thehealingvoices.wordpress.com/
Male Survivor – https://malesurvivor.org/
Voice of the Faithful – http://voiceofthefaithful.org/
Addiction Center – https://www.addictioncenter.com/
Bishop Accountability – http://www.bishop-accountability.org
1in6 – https://1in6.org/