A religious figure should be a person you can trust. They absolve your sins and are there to provide guidance. There is a strong bond you form with a priest or pastor. But when that trust is violated in the most horrific way, the long-lasting effects are devastating.
At Fellerman & Ciarimboli, we have been fighting for the rights of minors and adults for decades. Our PA clergy abuse lawyers are committed to those who were victimized by a religious authority. We make sure your voice is not silenced and you receive the justice from not only the predators that committed these terrible acts but from those religious institutions that allowed them to occur.
Clergy Sexual Abuse is Still a Problem
Since the late 1980s, abuse allegations have been popping out throughout the world. Between 2001 and 2010, the central governing body of the Catholic Church, the Holy See, has been investigating sex abuse allegations involving 3,000 priests that date back at least 50 years. Clergy abuse is not only occurring within the Catholic Church. According to the New York Times, a survey from the Center for the Prevention of Sexual and Domestic Violence found that up to 15 percent of clergy members in all religious groups have engaged in some inappropriate sexual conduct.
In Pennsylvania, a two-year grand jury investigation into sexual abuse of children within Catholic dioceses across the state — including Scranton, Allentown, Harrisburg, and Pittsburgh — is about to be released. Although no one is sure of the contents of the grand jury report, sources state that 2016 report had found decades of sexual abuse by priests in the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese which never went punished.
Unfortunately, religious organizations choose to conceal the abuse rather than end it. This not only makes it difficult to know how many have survived sexual abuse but allows the cycle of abuse to continue.
Sexual Abuse: What You Should Know
Sexual abuse is when a person experiences unwanted sexual activity. The perpetrator will take advantage of the victim, sometimes using force or threats of violence. Sexual abuse does not have to involve the act itself; it can be something as simple as an unwelcome touch or a kiss.
There are several types of abuse that a survivor may have experienced at the hands of a priest or clergyman. It may include one of the following:
- Indecent exposure
- Lewd or lascivious acts
- Statutory rape
- Sexual threats or harassment
- Sexual assault
- Unconsented touching with or without clothing
The effects of sexual abuse can be devastating and last a lifetime. They can range from depression and sleeping disorders to self-harm, suicide, and substance abuse. In children, a drastic change in behavior can occur. The child may change eating habits, engage in risky behavior, and may become overly sexualized.
Legal Remedies Available to PA Clergy Abuse Survivors
If you or a loved one is a survivor of clergy abuse, you have the right to seek compensation. You may receive economic damages for your abuse, such as medical and therapy bills and loss of income. You may also be able to recover punitive damages, to punish the individuals and the institutions that allowed these horrible acts to occur for decades.
In Pennsylvania, you have the right to file a claim against any party who is liable for the abuse. This means not only can you bring a suit against the perpetrator, but also the organization who had failed to report, prevent, or attempted to conceal the abuse.
Remember, by speaking up you not only stand up for your rights but will be protecting the rights of others. When you bring forward a sexual abuse suit against a religious body, you will be fighting for the institutional corrections to prevent anyone from being abused again.
In these cases, liability needs to be established which is why it’s important to hire experienced clergy abuse lawyers to help you with your claim. Fellerman & Ciarimboli has been fighting for the rights of sexual abuse survivors for decades. With a former member of the Luzerne County District Attorney’s office, we understand what is needed in these cases to get you the justice that you deserve and to stop the abuse from reoccurring.
Our Pennsylvania Clergy Abuse Lawyers Are Here to Help
We understand how difficult this situation can be. Not only are you or your loved one bringing to light a shameful episode, but you are also facing a powerful religious organization. But it’s time to speak up. With Fellerman & Ciarimboli at your side, you are not alone. Our priest abuse attorneys will make sure your voice is heard in a court of law. We will work day and night to make sure you are properly compensated for your injuries and make sure no one is abused by that religious authority ever again.
If you are a clergy abuse survivor and you are ready to step forward with your story, we want to hear from you. Contact us today for a free consultation. We fight for the injured and we will fight for your rights.