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Clergy Sex Abuse Victims: Hurt Again by a Broken System

To say the system is broken – would be an understatement. According to a recent grand jury report, the Catholic Church buried reports identifying over 300 priests as sexual predators. Meanwhile, media accounts suggest that the number of clergy sex abuse victims is easily into the thousands.

In the meantime, some wonder what the grand jury investigation really accomplishes. For one, many of the reports are decades old. Even as far as criminal charges, the time limits have passed to file charges against many of the perpetrators. Sadly, one news outlet suggests that only two of the priests may face criminal consequences. A quick mathematical computation puts that at less than 1% of those accused of the horrific crime of sexually assaulting minors.

And, then there are the civil complaints, whose statute of limitations is capped when clergy sex abuse victims reach the age of 30. Once again, the time constraints are inconceivable. As the grand jury shared, the Church is in possession of documentation substantiating claims. It isn’t as if the delay will necessarily deter case investigation.

Clergy Sex Abuse Victims and Delays

On the one hand, grand juries look into criminal actions for indictment purposes. With certainty, cases that dated back to the 1940s have well passed the time limits for prosecution. So, what’s the point?

Many are unaware that grand juries are not just charged with making indictments. There is also the issue of presentment. In fact, this is a critical aspect of uncovering the evidence kept in hiding by church officials throughout Pennsylvania. The problem was revealed – with the hopes that legislation can find the means of best addressing the matter. For some, that suggests a call for eliminating the statute of limitations for child sex abuse victims.

Putting the apparent cover-up aside, there is also the issue with the time it takes child sex abuse victims to admit wrongdoings perpetrated upon them. They may feel guilt or shame – or even believe they deserved the assaults. After all, priests are respected as men of God. Surely, they can do no harm – or so you might convince yourself.

Some telling statistics explain the delay in reporting child sex abuse of any kind. The median age for reporting such crimes is 48. Meanwhile, the average is 52. Therefore, the statute of limitations for civil claims falls more than short. Notably, 25%-33% of child sex abuse claims are never reported.

Apologies Just Don’t Cut It

The rhetoric no longer comes from just Sunday mass and the pulpit. Pope Francis took some time to review the accusations and provide a statement. He acknowledged that the church “showed no care for the little ones.”  He also called for an acknowledgment and condemnation of the pain inflicted by those who owed a duty of trust.

While at least one Pennsylvania bishop apologized after disclosure of the grand jury’s findings, many find it just isn’t enough. Meanwhile, hotlines continue to take in calls related to further reports of clergy abuse.

One would like to think that this overwhelming revelation will stop the crisis of clergy sex abuse. However, those who continue to suffer the aftermaths undoubtedly feel otherwise. Indeed, they may wonder how they will ever recover from a crime against their innocence.

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Without question, making a claim as a clergy sex abuse victim is a brave step. It is one that must be handled with compassion and delicacy. At Fellerman & Ciarimboli, we realize that reliving the past can be devastating. We are here to help you during this difficult time – and assist you in recovering compensation for a pain that may never go away.

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With more than 40 years of combined experience, the personal injury attorneys at Fellerman & Ciarimboli strive to provide the best service to clients in Philadelphia, Northeast Pennsylvania, and throughout the Keystone State.





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