Baltimore Attorney for Sexual Abuse Victims of the Catholic Church
Numerous public scandals have shown that abuse of minors in the Catholic Church is often more than the bad actions of a few individuals. In some cases, a local parish, a diocese, or an archdiocese may have shared responsibility for the abuse or assault by failing to remove accused priests from positions of trust and authority or for actively covering up allegations and acts committed by known offenders.
If your child was the victim of sexual abuse by a Catholic priest, or if you were yourself a victim of sexual abuse by a priest, contact Rice, Murtha & Psoras today. Our Baltimore attorneys for sexual abuse victims of the Catholic Church represent survivors and their families and fight to seek justice and financial compensation for victims.
For a free case review with our attorneys for sexual abuse victims of the Catholic Church, call us today at (410) 694-7291.
New 2023 Time Limits for a Sexual Abuse Lawsuit Against the Catholic Church in Baltimore
October 1, 2023, marked the start of new rule for sexual abuse filing deadlines which lifts the statute of limitations entirely. Previous law in Maryland allowed victims until approximately age 38 to sue for childhood sexual abuse, but the Maryland Child Victim’s Act codified as Md. Code, Cts. & Jud. Art., § 5-117 lifts this filing deadline.
This new law gives childhood victims of sexual abuse by the Catholic Church and other entities a right to sue at any time for childhood sexual abuse. In many cases, victims do not realize what was happening to them at the time or they keep quiet because of the Church’s pressure on them and the fear of others finding out what happened to them. Some also repress the memory of the event entirely and do not remember it until decades later when they are adults.
This law gives these victims more leeway to come forward and seek justice for what happened to them by lifting the statute of limitations going forward. This law also applies retroactively and revives any claim previously blocked by the statute of limitations. Under the old statute of limitations, anyone abused as a child before approximately 2003 would be a 38-year-old adult by now and thus unable to sue. This new rule lifts that impediment to suing and allows cases even from the 90s, 80s, or earlier to be filed at any time.
Maryland Attorney General Report on Catholic Church Abuse Allegations
Following similar investigative reports in other states, the Maryland Attorney General instituted an investigation into sexual abuse in the Catholic Church and discovered allegations against at least 156 clergy, resulting in the abuse of at least 600 child victims from the 40s through 2002, according to a CNN report. This report is part of the reason that Maryland decided to change the statute of limitations and lift any restriction on filing deadlines for victims of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church.
How the Archdiocese of Baltimore’s Bankruptcy Affects Child Sexual Abuse Claims
The Archdiocese of Baltimore and other groups within the Catholic Church have consistently been accused of trying to cover up and avoid responsibility for allegations of sexual abuse by various means and methods. The Archdiocese filed for bankruptcy soon before the new Child Victim’s Act’s statute of limitations went into effect. This has been widely theorized to be an attempt to dodge liability and evade having to pay for sexual abuse settlements and lawsuits filed against them under the new statute of limitations.
As of the writing of this article, the Archdiocese’s bankruptcy petition has not been resolved, and cases can move forward against the Catholic Church in Baltimore for childhood sexual abuse that happened at any time. If this bankruptcy petition were to be granted, it might block people from being able to collect damages from the Archdiocese and potentially hurt victims and their right to justice. This makes it all the more important to contact our attorneys for sexual abuse victims of the Catholic Church and get your case moving today.
Suing the Catholic Church for Sexual Abuse in Baltimore
Laws in Baltimore often allow victims of sexual assault and sexual abuse to sue negligent or complicit institutions as well as the individual who harmed them. In cases of abuse by priests and other individuals in the Catholic Church, this means that you might be able to sue the parish, the diocese, or the archdiocese to get compensation for the harm you faced.
When you sue for sexual abuse, you must prove what happened to you. This often means testifying to the encounters or events that occurred, which can be difficult. Fortunately, however, the Church does not like having lawsuits like this become public, and they may be willing to offer a settlement that can help you avoid testifying publicly or openly discussing what happened to you. There are also laws to protect victims of abuse, especially if they are still minors.
Survivors of sexual abuse are allowed to sue for a wide range of conduct. Nearly any sexual touching or conduct committed by someone in a position of power – like a priest – against a child would certainly qualify as sexual abuse. In Baltimore – and Maryland, as a whole – there does not need to be evidence of force or violence for this to constitute sexual abuse.
If you can prove that the individual priest, Catholic school teacher, clergyman, or other induvial was responsible for the assault, you can often join the Church itself in the lawsuit as well. If the parish, Catholic school, or archdiocese was complicit in covering up abuse by a priest, moved the priest into your parish having known about prior allegations, or was negligent in allowing a dangerous priest to interact with children, they will share fault in the abuse. Suing the Church as well as the individual often ensures that there is a party that can pay for the damages you suffered.
Damages in Lawsuits Against the Church for Sexual Abuse of a Minor
When you sue the Church and the abuser, you may be entitled to any damages stemming from the abuse. Childhood sexual abuse can often have substantial effects on a person’s life, mental health, and future. To account for this, there are often many areas of damages available under Baltimore law.
The first area of damages you might be able to claim compensation for is medical expenses. This can include the cost of any care required after the abuse, such as emergency medical treatment or hospitalization from injuries. In most cases, the injuries are not physical, and victims might be able to claim compensation for counseling and mental health care related to the event.
Sexual abuse can cause many mental health issues and disorders. Survivors often suffer from depression, PTSD, and other issues related to trauma. If these disorders and effects hurt your ability to work or take care of yourself, you may be entitled to damages for lost wages that can be linked to this trauma.
Lastly, the effects that other people may not be able to see are often the worst part of the harm a survivor of sexual assault and sexual abuse faces. Compensation is often available for these intangible harms, such as the mental anguish and emotional distress of the event. These damages can be claimed in court even though there may be no financial record tracking what these damages are worth.
Call Our Baltimore Lawyers for Victims of Sexual Abuse by Catholic Priests and Clergy
If your child was abused by a priest, a clergyman, a Catholic school teacher, or anyone else affiliated with the Catholic church, our attorneys may be able to help. We can also help if you discovered that you were a victim of sexual abuse as a child. Call Rice, Murtha & Psoras’s Baltimore attorneys for sexual abuse victims of the Catholic Church today. Our attorneys offer free legal consultations in a safe, confidential environment. For a free case assessment and to learn more about filing a lawsuit against the Catholic Church for abuse of a minor, call our law offices at (410) 694-7291.