Virginia Sexual Abuse Lawsuits
Virginia is beginning to make significant efforts in order to reform its laws regarding childhood sexual abuse and the time victims have to file and pursue claims. It is one of only a handful of states to propose and enact new sexual abuse laws in 2020. Its efforts to change legislation has helped survivors of sexual abuse get justice against their abusers in the courts, and also allows for compensation. These laws enable lawyers handling sexual abuse claims in Virginia to file cases against sexual predators, including clergy members, and the Catholic church.
Below you will find information on Virginia’s statute of limitations laws. These laws are important because they dictate how long a lawyer handling Virginia sexual assault cases has to file a claim on behalf of a survivor. In addition, we’ve compiled a list of Virginia ‘credibly’ accused priests released by both Dioceses.
Virginia Statute of Limitations for Sexual Abuse & Assault
In 2020, Virginia passed legislation extending its criminal statute of limitations (SOLs) for misdemeanor child sex abuse crimes. In addition, there are additional reform bills that were introduced in 2019 and 2020 that legislators are trying to get passed.
Criminal Statute of Limitation Laws for Virginia
Virginia has no criminal SOL for felonies related to child sex abuse. In 2016, the SOL for misdemeanor child sex crimes was increased to age 19 for survivors. On April 10, 2020, the Governor signed a new bill into law that extends the statute of limitations for misdemeanor child sex crimes to 5 years after the age of majority, which is 18 years old. This new legislation allows survivors the opportunity to press criminal charges until the age of 23. Child USA, who has evaluated every state based on their criminal statute of limitation laws, gave Virginia a Criminal SOL score of 3, on a 1-5 scale, where 5 is the highest. A score of 3 is defined as a criminal SOL eliminated for felonies only.
Civil Statute of Limitation Laws for Virginia
Beginning in 2002, Virginia’s civil statute of limitations for child sex abuse was only age 20. However, in 2020, the civil SOL was extended to age 36 and a 4-year discovery rule was added. The discovery rule allows the statute of limitations to start when a victim recalls his or her abuse, or a connection is made from a diagnosis to the abuse.
The bill to open a revival ‘window’, which would have allowed childhood sexual abuse survivors with currently expired claims to pursue claims, failed to pass February of 2020. While it passed in the House on January 31, 2020, it failed in the Senate Judiciary Committee. It has now been continued to 2021. Child USA, who has also evaluated every state based on their civil statute of limitation laws, gave Virginia a Civil SOL Age Cap score of 3, on a 1-5 scale, where 5 is the highest. A score of 3 is defined as a civil SOL age cap between 35 and 49 years old for survivors.
If you or someone you love was sexually abused or assaulted in Virginia, contact us now. Due to Virginia’s discovery rule, those sexually abused as a minor may still have a claim against their abuser, no matter how long ago the abuse occurred. Even if the abuser is deceased, you may still have a claim against the organization responsible. With current reform bills in process, don’t wait to file your claim.
Go to our main sexual abuse page to learn more about the process of filing a sexual abuse claim.
Virginia Sexual Abuse Settlements
There are very few public settlements or jury awards between the Dioceses within the state of Virginia and childhood sexual abuse survivors. In fact, the Catholic Diocese of Arlington reported that over its 44-year history, the Diocese has paid out only $110,000 from insurance funds in settlements to survivors. That said, if and when those are made public, they will be added to our site. Please check back.
Virginia Catholic Dioceses Release Names of Clergy Credibly Accused of Sexual Abuse of Children
In a February 2019 letter to his parishioners, the Bishop of Arlington, Michael F. Burbidge, released the names of all clergy who have been deemed ‘credibly accused’. The list is being published after a full review of all clergy files by independent examiners, who were former FBI personnel. Those on the list below meet one or more of the following criteria:
- Admitted guilt,
- Criminal court, civil court or ecclesiastical process determined the accuser was guilty,
- The Arlington or Richmond Diocesan Review Board found the allegation to be credible.
Diocese of Richmond Credibly Accused Priest List
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In addition, the Arlington Diocese has listed the following priests as having been credibly accused outside the Arlington Diocese, but served in the Diocese of Arlington at some point in time.
Similarly, a February 2019 letter from Reverend Barry C. Knestout, the Bishop of Richmond, released the names of credibly accused clergy who once served within the Richmond Diocese. The list below was last updated on October 25th of 2019.
Diocese of Arlington Credibly Accused Priest List
|wdt_ID||Last Name||First Name||Year of Ordination/ Incardination||Clergy Status|
Click to view our larger list of accused priests. Here you can search by accused clergy first and last name, Parish/Diocese, city and state, and even by the years of their assignments.
Richmond Catholic Diocese Establish Victims Compensation Fund for Child Sexual Abuse Survivors
On February 17, 2020, the Catholic Diocese of Richmond announced its creation of an Independent Reconciliation Program aimed at compensating survivors of childhood clergy sexual abuse without having to file a claim or go to court.
The Bishop, Reverend Barry C. Knestout, said that funds to pay for the program will come from self-insurance, investments and loans. The dioceses hired a Richmond-based settlement administration law firm to evaluate claims and determine settlement amounts. Those settlement amounts will be based on the victim’s age at the time of abuse, the nature of the abuse, the number of instances of abuse, the effect of the abuse on the victim, among other factors. The Diocese will not have any ability to deny or change any settlement or the amounts.
Victim’s advocate groups have come forward arguing that the window for this program is far too short, and that most victims need more time since it is so hard to come forward. In addition, they point out that by agreeing to take a settlement, survivors of clergy sexual abuse will be giving up the right to sue in the future and will not have their day in court. That said, most agree that for some, this could be the most appropriate and best course of action. In fact, those who are currently unable to file a claim due to Virginia’s statute of limitations laws can be compensated through the program.
Note that this program had an extremely short window to file an application. The deadline for submission was April 3, 2020 and is already closed.
That said, just because this compensation fund has closed, it does not mean that there are no other options. For more information about filing a sexual abuse claim against the Catholic Church in Virginia, call our office at 1-800-941-7209. Your call is completely confidential.
Virginia Sexual Abuse Lawsuits: News & Updates
DC councilman, David Gross, has decided not to run for re-election after being notified that the Attorney General of Virginia filed an indictment against Father Scott Asalone for child sex abuse. Gross is listed as one of Asalone’s victims. Click the headline to read more…