Cases of clergy sexual abuse have reached alarming levels. A recent John Jay College study for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops found that approximately 4% of priests between 1950-2002 were accused of some form of sexual abuse. Religious leaders and clergy are responsible for providing moral and spiritual guidance. Using their stature and authority to commit these atrocities under a veil of secrecy constitutes an ultimate betrayal.
Dordulian Law Group is the premier Los Angeles-area sexual abuse firm with a sterling reputation for aggressively advocating on behalf of survivors. Having successfully represented countless survivors of clergy abuse, DLG continues the fight to obtain justice and recover financial damages for such unspeakable crimes. Former sex crimes prosecutor for the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office, Sam Dordulian, and his team of clergy sexual abuse attorneys in Glendale, California, have handled major litigations against some of the most high-profile and heinous offenders. We have successfully taken on nationally recognized and powerful religious institutions such as the Catholic Church, as well as secular institutions like the Boy Scouts of America.
Clergy sexual abuse has far-reaching consequences for the survivors, their families, and their loved ones. If you have been sexually abused by a clergy member, Dordulian Law Group will fight to achieve justice and get you the compensation you deserve.
Child sexual abuse is any form of sexual activity with a minor. Sexual abuse is defined as undesirable and forced sexual behavior a perpetrator inflicts on an individual. Sexual assault involves sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the consent of the victim. Defining the differences among sexual assault, abuse, harassment, etc. requires nuanced language. For example, sexual assault includes rape, but every instance of sexual assault is not necessarily rape.
Regardless, any offender who has been convicted of sexual assault or abuse can be referred to as a sex offender, molester, predator, or sexual abuser.
When any of the above events occur with a clergy member, the offense is considered clergy sexual abuse. Clergy members can be defined as formal religious leaders, including pastors, preachers, ministers, rabbis, priests, etc.
Although sexual abuse impacts almost every age group, a significant number of sexual abuse crimes committed by clergy are against children. Some common characteristics of clergy members who are sexual predators include:
The Roman Catholic Church has received significant attention in the media for sexual abuse scandals. However, many other denominations or religions have also faced scrutiny. Southern Baptist, United Methodist, ultra-Orthodox Jewish, and Pentecostal churches are just some examples of religious institutions that have been embroiled in sexual abuse scandals, primarily involving children.
If you have been sexually abused by a clergy member, our sexual abuse attorneys in Glendale, California, can provide support and help you obtain justice. Our experienced legal team will evaluate your case, explain what damages you might be eligible to recover, and answer any questions you may have.
Most victims of clergy abuse experience lifelong effects that are devastating. This breach of trust can forever affect a survivor’s life. Priests and other religious officials have a special role in spiritually guiding their parishioners. That role gives them a psychological power over the children they abuse.
Dordulian Law Group provides all of our sexual abuse survivor clients a unique type of representation that includes access to four tiers of Sexual Abuse Justice Experts (SAJE). This expert team includes a recently retired and highly decorated Los Angeles Police Department detective and a former Deputy District Attorney for Los Angeles County. Victims of sexual assault at the hands of clergy also have the benefit of two dedicated victim advocates and a licensed clinical therapist on this specialized team.
According to an essay entitled Unspeakable Damage: The Effects of Clergy Sexual Abuse by former priest and psychotherapist, Richard Sipe, there are several long-lasting consequences that can impact the lives of clergy sexual abuse survivors. Some of these effects include:
Other victims are known to suffer through an unconscious guilt that makes them feel as if they deserve punishment. These men and women unwillingly humiliate and defeat themselves, feeling as though they do not deserve any kind of success.
Dordulian Law Group’s team of clergy sexual abuse attorneys in Los Angeles are proven advocates for all survivors of this type of exploitation. For over 20 years, our team has represented and fought for victims, obtaining justice and recovering maximum financial damages awards. Our Sexual Abuse Justice Experts (SAJE) are available 24/7. Whether you’re in need of a victim advocate, a licensed clinical therapist, a retired LAPD detective who served in the department’s elite Abused Child Unit, or a former sex crimes prosecutor and Deputy District Attorney for Los Angeles County, our SAJE Team of dedicated professionals is here to answer your questions, offer you support and guidance, and – when you’re ready to take that critical step – pursue justice against your individual perpetrator or institution.
The number of survivors who have come forward in recent years to report clergy abuse is a reflection of the extent of the problem throughout both the United States and the world. Nothing can erase the trauma endured by a clergy abuse survivor, particularly if the victim was a child when the crime occurred. However, seeing justice served and receiving some measure of recognition that includes financial compensation can provide a semblance of healing for many survivors.
As we’ve noted in previous blogs, although survivors may initially feel intimidated or overcome with fear when considering pursuing a lawsuit, the process of facing an abuser in court can often be extremely empowering. Moreover, winning your case and recovering financial damages can often be the beginning of a new and positive chapter in one’s life.
Statistical information highlights the extent of the clergy sexual abuse problem. Bishop accountability.org reports that by 2009, settlements had been reached for over 5000 survivors who had come forward to report sexual abuse by clergy in the Catholic Church.
The U.S. Department of Justice’s National Sex Offender website reports that only around 30% of sexual assault cases ever get reported. An alleged tactic utilized by the Catholic Church is to move offending clergy from one parish to another in an effort to cover-up the epidemic of abuse. California’s recent legislation – Assembly Bill 218 (AB 218) – addresses the widespread issue of cover-ups relative to clergy abuse by allowing the courts to grant treble (triple) damages awards in civil lawsuits to childhood sexual abuse survivors who were victims of cover-ups. As an example, a $1 million damages award for a childhood sexual abuse survivor would actually amount to $3 million in the event that a cover-up was proved.
If you are a victim of sexual abuse by the Catholic clergy or any religious denomination, you have the power to come forward and file a claim in pursuit of financial compensation. Seeking justice and coming forward with a civil lawsuit does not simply empower the individual survivor, it also holds both the responsible individual and/or institution accountable.
Moreover, each time a survivor comes forward, that act of courage can prevent others from becoming victims of these predators. The psychological and emotional scars might never heal. However, taking legal action is often a means of moving forward.
Survivors of sexual abuse may be entitled to financial compensation for various losses, such as emotional and psychological trauma, pain and suffering, reduced quality of life, inability to maintain gainful employment, and much more. Some examples of compensation that can be included in a clergy sexual abuse civil claim include:
Due to the nature of the crimes, survivors of sexual abuse may require extended time – ranging from many months to several decades in some cases – before coming forward and seeking legal assistance. When an incident is disclosed can also be affected by the age of the survivor when the crime occurred. Research indicates that only one third of childhood sexual assault survivors ever report abuse. Sadly, one third of childhood survivors never disclose the incident.
When survivors are ready to come forward, Dordulian Law Group’s dedicated and compassionate clergy sexual abuse attorneys in Glendale, California, are ready to help.
The statute of limitations for civil claims related to sexual assault crimes varies in California depending on whether the victim was an adult or a child at the time of the incident. For adults, the statute of limitations is 10 years from the date the crime occurred. In other words, adult survivors of clergy abuse have 10 years from the date the crime took place to file a civil claim seeking financial damages.
For childhood sexual abuse victims, a new law extends the time to file a claim.
AB 218 allows us to prosecute childhood sex crimes that would otherwise have been barred due to the statute of limitations. AB 218 took effect in January 2020, and an aspect of the bill known as the “three-year lookback window” allows any survivor of childhood sexual abuse the opportunity to file a claim, regardless of how long ago the crime occurred. However, the three-year lookback window expires at the end of 2022, so survivors are encouraged to file a claim immediately to ensure the deadline is met and their claim is valid.
Published reports indicate that sexual abuse in the Catholic Church has been impacting children for decades. In fact, over 10,000 individuals have come forward with allegations between the years of 1950 and 2002. AB 218 offers survivors a limited opportunity to seek justice and recover financial compensation.
For additional information on how AB 218 affects both civil and criminal lawsuits, view our blog here.
Ready to file a claim and pursue justice through a financial damages award? Our expert attorneys are available online or by phone now.
Dordulian Law Group offers a unique and all-encompassing form or representation for survivors via our SAJE Team. Sam Dordulian, our managing attorney and founding president, has over 20 years of legal experience as a litigator in Southern California. He has represented clients in civil lawsuits and helped them recover more than $100 million in damages.
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Our consultations are free and with our no win/no fee guarantee, you never have to worry about paying out-of-pocket expenses or being hit with hidden fees. You pay nothing until we recover financial compensation on your behalf.
Call us today at 818-322-4056 to learn more about how we can help you obtain justice on your own terms. For your sexual abuse claim, don’t settle for anything less than the Dordulian Law Group advantage.
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