The recent revelations about widespread child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church and the Boy Scouts of America horrified the nation. Now the priority is getting long-overdue justice for the victims who often ended up scarred for life. The victims are suing for child sexual abuse against the Catholic Church, the Boy Scouts of America, private schools, and other bodies across America. More than a dozen states changed their laws to allow those who were abused decades ago to file lawsuits.
Although Maryland law presently restricts adults who were abused as minors from suing, pressure is growing for change. Dozens of Roman Catholic priests in Maryland were caught up in the child sex abuse scandal. The Baltimore Sun listed 23 deceased priests accused of child sex abuse in a 2019 article. This is believed to be the tip of the iceberg. If you or a family member is considering filing a lawsuit over child sexual abuse at the hands of a major institution it makes sense to contact a Baltimore child sexual abuse lawyer.
Look-Back Laws that Allow Child Abuse Victims to Sue Years Later
People who suffered abuse at the hands of those they trusted are now able to sue for years of emotional damage in certain states. Under the Maryland Statute of Limitations, victims only have three years to bring a personal injury action. However, states across the country are enacting legislation with “look back” windows that allow cases that would otherwise have expired to be opened.
The New York Times reported the 2019 Child Victims Act in New York State allows accusers to sue institutions like the Catholic Church and the Boy Scouts of America until they reach their 55th birthday. Previously, the state required lawsuits to be brought before a victim’s 23rd birthday.
New Jersey also allowed a look-back window spurred by a Pennsylvania grand jury report that accused 300 Catholic priests of systematically abusing more than 1,000 children over seven decades. The Washington Post reported Maryland lawmakers made it easier for adults who suffered sexual abuse as children to sue institutions like the Catholic Church that harbored predators in 2017. The legislation allowed an extension of the state’s civil statute of limitations from the age of 25 to 38. However, the Post report claimed language supported by the Catholic Church protects it and other organizations from lawsuits in the future because it forbids Maryland from raising the maximum age above 38.
This is a fast-moving area of the law. We expect suing for child sexual abuse against the Catholic Church and the Boy Scouts to become easier in the future.
Examples of Child Sexual Abuse Allegations Against the Catholic Church
The scale of the sex abuse allegations against Catholic priests worldwide is staggering. Thousands of cases are recorded in the United States and the numbers are growing.
Associated Press noted 1,385 adults came forward to report abuse at the hands of priests during the reporting period from July 1, 2017, to June 30, 2018. They made 1,455 allegations of abuse, according to the annual report of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection. The figure was almost double the 693 allegations in the previous year. The report said the figures reflected the victim compensation program implemented in five New York state dioceses.
Nearly 800 former Boy Scouts are suing the Boy Scouts America. They claim they were sexually assaulted by 350 abusers who never appeared in the Boy Scout’s disciplinary files.
About 25 different suits were filed against the Boy Scouts by the end of Aug. 2019. A New Jersey suit followed at least 24 filed against the Scouts in New York after the state opened its one-year window in which victims of child sex abuse can sue over encounters outside the usual statute of limitations.
Another lawsuit was filed against the Boy Scouts in Philadelphia. Attorneys say they identified hundreds of victims since a Pennsylvania appeals court ruled that the state’s statute of limitations could be waived if a victim proves abuse was concealed by fraud.
Some private and religious schools also face lawsuits. In New York, 38 former students are suing Yeshiva University High School for Boys. They claim they were molested by rabbis.
How to Prove Sexual Abuse and Assault in Maryland
People who claim they were assaulted by figures in authority like priests or Boy Scout leaders often face an uphill battle. Sexual abuse of a minor is a very private matter and there is often no evidence beyond the testimony of the abused person. The accuser must show the organization was aware of the conduct of the abuser and should have known of the risks.
Many victims were ashamed to report crimes at the time and faced intimidation from powerful organizations. Years later, they are faced with recalling decades-old abuse as they fight for justice.
However, plenty of evidence is emerging that the Catholic Church and the Boy Scouts of America covered up abuse and failed to deal with perpetrators. A sexual abuse lawyer can dig up this evidence to bolster your case.
An organization can be held liable for sexual and physical abuse if:
- It was negligent in supervising an employee or a volunteer;
- It failed to properly vet a worker on hiring;
- It allowed him to keep working around children after allegations he posed a danger were made;
- It failed to properly investigate complaints made against a worker or to take appropriate action;
- It placed its reputation above the safety of a child.
Child Sexual Abuse Lawsuits Against the Catholic Church
In New York, boys who claimed they were repeatedly sexually abused by a catechism teacher won a $27.5 million settlement against the Diocese of Brooklyn. Many of the litigants who took advantage of the change in the law in New York State say they reported abuse to senior officials in the Roman Catholic Church.
James Grein, one of the men whose accusations of sexual abuse resulted in the defrocking of former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, claimed he told the late Pope John Paul II about the abuse during a visit to the Vatican in 1988. He said no action was taken, the New York Times reported.
Large payouts following the enactment of new laws to benefit victims led to massive payouts and prompted archdioceses in California, Delaware, and Minnesota to file for bankruptcy.
The Boy Scouts of America is facing payouts of millions of dollars if lawsuits against it succeed. According to Fox Business, the Boy Scouts of America is considering filing for bankruptcy amid hundreds of sex abuse lawsuits.
USA Gymnastics, the sport’s governing body for the sport, filed for bankruptcy under the weight of hundreds of lawsuits over decades-long sexual abuse by the national team’s former doctor Larry Nassar.
Talk to a Maryland Sexual Abuse Victims Lawyer for Abuse by Members of Church
At the Law Offices of Randolph Rice, we have fought for years for the rights of the victims of sexual and physical assaults. Many of the allegations against the Catholic Church, the Boy Scouts of America, and other organizations go back decades.
Your abuser may no longer be alive. You should not be denied justice for years of silent suffering. Please talk to attorney Randolph Rice about your rights at (410) 288-2900.