Clergy Sexual Abuse Lawsuits
Our team is equipped to handle sexual abuse cases by members of the clergy with empathy and compassion for victims. If you have been a victim of clergy sexual abuse, we are here to support you and help you seek justice.
At Jafri Law Firm we represent victims of sexual abuse by priests, clergymen, or other church officials, and we strive to hold perpetrators accountable and obtain financial compensation for the harm caused. If you have experienced sexual abuse as a child within your religious organization, we encourage you to reach out to us.
Recent investigations have revealed the extent of the problem of clergy sexual abuse within the Catholic Church and other religious institutions. It is clear that this abuse was a frequent and pervasive problem, and that the institutions were aware of it but failed to take effective action. Most victims were male and under the age of 14, and the abuse was often ongoing.
The long-term effects of sexual abuse by clergy members can be devastating, causing emotional trauma that lasts a lifetime. However, recent legal changes have given victims more options for holding their abusers accountable, including eliminating or expanding the statute of limitations for sexual abuse claims in civil court.
While the Catholic Church has been the subject of the largest number of sexual abuse lawsuits, other religious denominations and organizations have also faced allegations of clergy sexual abuse. We recognize the widespread nature of this issue and are dedicated to fighting for justice for all victims.
Victims of Clergy Sexual Abuse Can Sue the Church
Clergy sexual abuse victims have the right to hold their abusers and the church accountable, and there are legal options available to them. Our firm represents victims of clergy abuse through tort lawsuits against the individuals who abused them and the religious organizations that enabled the abuse.
Civil lawsuits provide victims of child sexual abuse with the opportunity to seek financial compensation for the harm they suffered. Damages awarded in sexual abuse cases may include compensation for past and future medical expenses resulting from the abuse, emotional pain and suffering, and punitive damages (in some states).
Beyond monetary damages, victims of clergy abuse can also pursue injunctive relief through civil actions. This legal remedy allows the court to order the church to take specific actions to prevent future sexual abuse. In cases of church sexual abuse, injunctive relief may involve court orders mandating the implementation of preventative measures.
How Much Money Can You Get for a Clergy Sexual Abuse Lawsuit?
It’s understandable to wonder about the potential financial compensation before deciding to pursue a sexual abuse lawsuit against a church. The emotional toll of being a plaintiff in such a case can be overwhelming, so it’s important to weigh the potential benefits and drawbacks beforehand.
Fortunately, clergy sexual abuse lawsuits often have high settlement values. Recent sexual abuse cases against the Catholic Church have resulted in average settlements of $300,000-$400,000, with U.S. Catholic dioceses paying out over $3 billion in compensation to victims thus far. In some cases, multiple abuse cases are consolidated and a global settlement is reached.
For instance, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles settled a group of clergy abuse cases for $660 million, with each victim receiving an average of $1.3 million – the highest settlement for any group of abuse cases. While this may seem like a high-end settlement, it’s not uncommon for victims of clergy abuse to receive substantial compensation.
Settlements & Verdicts in the News
- 2021 Pennsylvania – $19,200,000 Settlement: These claims were against the Catholic Diocese in Pittsburgh. The Feinberg Group reported that it received 369 claims. Of the 297 claims deemed eligible, 21 claimants did not respond to settlement offers. Fifty-two more refused the settlement. The remaining 224 claimants agreed to settlements. These clergy abuse claims only averaged about $86,000 per victim.
- 2020 Ohio – $1,000,000 Settlement: plaintiff alleged that a priest sexually abused him six times while attending a Catholic high school. He suffered from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.
- 2019 Florida – $4,500,000 Verdict: A United Methodist Church elder, who was also a mental health counselor, sexually abused a woman during counseling sessions. She hired a clergy abuse lawyer and filed a negligent supervision claim against the Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church. A jury awarded $4,500,000.
- 2018 Montana – $34,960,000 Verdict: Jehovah’s Witness congregation member sexually abused his plaintiffs when they were children over a 13-year period. The two women alleged that the congregation’s decision to internally handle the matter rather than contact authorities allowed the abuse to continue. It is such a common theme in these cases – granting a known child molester the opportunity to molest more children.
- 2018 Oregon – $800,000 Verdict: plaintiff alleged that a youth pastor sexually molested him when he was 13. He hired a clergy abuse attorney who filed a lawsuit that alleged that he abused his position to coerce him into sexual acts. The man claimed vicarious liability against the youth pastor’s church. The church denied liability. It argued that the youth pastor’s actions occurred outside the scope of employment.
- 2016 Washington – $9,100,000 Settlement: Eight women alleged that a former Catholic priest sexually abused them over forty years ago when they were children. The priest abused six of them in one parish and two in another. They claimed that the then-Archbishop of Seattle transferred him to unsuspecting parishes despite possessing documented accounts of his abuse. The average individual settlement amount over $1 million was in part the result of the awfulness of sending this priest off to molest more children.
FAQs: Clergy Sexual Abuse Lawsuits
If you were the victim of clergy abuse as a child, you might still be able to sue the church for that abuse if your state has expanded the statute of limitations on sexual abuse lawsuits. If your state has not lifted or extended the statute of limitations on clergy abuse claims, then it may be too late to bring a lawsuit.
So far the Roman Catholic Church has paid over $3.2 billion in compensation to victims of clergy sexual abuse in the U.S.
There is a statute of limitations on bringing a lawsuit for clergy sexual abuse, but 15 states have recently revised these laws to allow victims of child sexual abuse to bring civil claims years after the fact.
Yes. If you (or your child) were sexually abused by a priest, pastor, or clergymen, you can bring a civil tort lawsuit against them. The problem, however, is that most clergymen do not have substantial financial assets so if you sue an individual priest and get a $500,000 award against him you probably will have no hope of actually collecting any money. If you want to get any money you need to bring a claim against the church.
Based on reported settlement amounts in prior sexual abuse cases against the Catholic Church and a few other religious institutions, the average individual settlement amount for a clergy sexual abuse lawsuit is between $300,000 to $400,000.
Clergy Sexual Abuse Lawsuits
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