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 the Law Offices of Randolph Rice 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. To schedule a free legal consultation with our lawyers in a confidential meeting, call us today at (410) 694-7291.
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.
Time Limits for a Sex Abuse Lawsuit Against the Catholic Church in Baltimore
Baltimore law allows survivors of sexual abuse by a priest until they turn 18 to sue for the harm they faced. In many cases, the deadline can even be extended beyond that. If the lawsuit is filed directly against the responsible individual, the deadline to file the case is 20 years after the victim turns 18 – i.e., the victim’s 38th birthday.
If the lawsuit is filed against the Church or another entity that was vicariously responsible for an individual’s abuse of a minor, the case can always be filed before the victim turns 18. However, unless the case involved the institution’s gross negligence, the claim must be filed within 7 years after the victim’s 18th birthday – i.e., the victim’s 25th birthday.
Talk to a lawyer about what the deadline to file your case is – but act quickly because your case might be barred if you file too late.
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 the Law Offices of Randolph Rice’s Baltimore attorneys for sexual abuse victims of the Catholic Church today. Our attorneys offer free legal consultations in a safe, confidential environment. For your free consultation 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.