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Child sexual abuse is a subject that should not be taken lightly. Not only does it carry criminal consequences, but a child’s life has been shattered. It can take a lifetime to get over the abuse, if at all. The victim will never be the same again.
Sexual abuse by a member of the Catholic Church can have even more dire consequences. When that abuser’s crimes were covered up by the church, not only does the child suffer but more children will become victims.
At Fellerman & Ciarimboli, our Allentown clergy abuse lawyers understand and sympathize with the pain you and your family must feel. This kind of behavior has been allowed for decades in Allentown, Scranton, Harrisburg, and throughout Pennsylvania. And our attorneys are ready to stand with you in your time of need.
Clergy Abuse and The Law
In Pennsylvania and many states across the United States, the law recognizes different degrees of sexual assault depending on the perpetrator’s actions, the age of the victim, and the relationship between the abuser and the victim. In the Keystone State, the sexual assault between an authority figure and a child is considered a third-degree felony with a punishment of up to seven years in prison and up to $15,000 in fines.
However, there is a catch in bringing criminal charges — you need to have concrete evidence against the abuser. This is one of the reasons why criminal charges are rare in clergy abuse cases.
But you may still have the opportunity to file a civil lawsuit against the abuser. Unlike criminal cases, a civil claim doesn’t need absolute certainty. You just need to show a “preponderance of the evidence.” For example, if you can’t remember certain events of abuse, but have expert testimony about your claims, you are still able to show fault.