What is Sexual Abuse?
Clergy sexual abuse is defined as the unwanted sexual contact or sexualized behavior between someone in a religious role, such as a priest, a rabbi, or layman, and a member of the congregation. It can take many forms, including the following:
- Sexual touch or even an "accidental" touch of sexual areas on the body
- Kissing on the lips
- Pressing up against your body
- Suggestive comments
- Talk about sexual experiences
Not only is sexual abuse with a religious figure a violation of that person's professional ethics, it is illegal, even if consent is given.
Why Should I Come Forward?
As an abuse survivor, you have the right to file a civil claim against not only your abuser, but also the organization who had failed to report, prevent, and attempted to conceal the abuse. According to Pennsylvania law, you may be eligible to receive economic damages for your abuse -- this includes medical bills for therapy sessions. You may also receive punitive damages, such as pain and suffering and loss of joy, as a way to punish those who committed or allowed these terrible acts to occur.
You will need to establish liability for your claim and this means you will have to recount the events that occurred. But it's important to note that unlike a criminal case, where there needs to be concrete evidence to prove guilt, there only needs to be a "preponderance of the evidence." This means there needs to be enough evidence to prove the accuracy of your claim. For example, one credible witness can provide enough evidence to support the claim.
Rehashing the past is the hardest part of your case. It is an embarrassing and shameful part of your life. But 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 else from being abused.
How Our Scranton Clergy Abuse Lawyers Can Help
The Scranton clergy abuse lawyers at Fellerman & Ciarimboli understand the sensitive nature these cases. But we can't allow these injustices to happen again. It is difficult to step up to a powerful religious organization but the time to act is now. There is a statute of limitations on these cases and you need to step forward before it's too late.
With Fellerman & Ciarimboli, you should know that you are not alone in this process. We will help you speak up against the Catholic Church. We will work day and night to make sure you are properly compensated for your abuse and make sure this does not happen in our area again.
If you are a clergy abuse survivor in Scranton and are ready to step forward, we are here for you. Contact our Scranton clergy abuse lawyers for a free consultation. We will stand with you and fight for your rights.