In recent years, there have been substantial revelations with regard to the prevalence of sexual abuse of minors within religious communities. If you or someone you love have suffered the trauma and pain of being sexually abused or assaulted by a religious leader, you must know that it is possible to get justice.
Our team of injury attorneys has stood beside church sexual abuse victims and won in the past. They want your voice to be heard, too. Contact us today for a 100% confidential, free legal consultation through which you can learn more about the powerful legal options at your disposal.
It has been traditional for church officials to send offending priests to Mercedarians, Parochial Fathers, and other congregational centers that provide counseling for clergy dealing with serious personal issues such as pedophilia since at least the 1950s.
Many years of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church have been hidden. Our services can help anyone who has been abused or who has a loved one who was abused. You have a voice. We are dedicated to helping you seek justice against the parties responsible for your trauma, regardless of when it occurred. It is common for survivors of sexual abuse to have to wait years before disclosing the abuse, as they fear not being taken seriously or being retaliated against by the Church. Our clergy abuse attorneys understand how childhood sexual abuse can leave victims feeling deeply hurt, embarrassed, and ashamed. An overwhelming amount of emotions can arise.
A child who is sexually abused as a child is sensitive, and has to make a profound decision regarding how to speak out about that trauma. Our top priority is to keep any information you provide highly confidential. Our team is here to help you. We aim only to provide survivors with the opportunity to tell their stories truthfully. We want to hear your voice and encourage others to come forward to help you achieve closure. You have tremendous power and significance.
Recent research on clergy sexual abuse has substantiated many of the allegations survivors and advocates have been making for decades. Pennsylvania's attorney general released a grand jury report in 2018, marking the first time a governmental agency had conducted a comprehensive investigation into sexual abuse within a church setting.
The reports from the grand jury revealed shocking results. More than 300 Catholic priests and order clergy, encompassing more than 1,000 child victims, were identified through an examination of more than two million documents seized from the Catholic Church in Pennsylvania.
New Jersey is likely to face a similar situation. Today, five dioceses in New Jersey - Newark, Camden, Paterson, Metuchen, and Trenton - have already released a list of near 200 clergy members who had been "credibly accused" of child sexual abuse over the last eight decades.
There are many legal rights you have at your disposal. Survivors of clergy sexual abuse may be able to bring a private civil action against the diocese where they were abused. There have been accusations that New Jersey's Catholic dioceses conceal abuse allegations, empower dangerous predators, and silence victims. These claims are not idle. The Catholic Church has concealed sexual abuse consistently for decades, as we now know. There may be substantial compensation available.
Criminal prosecutors cannot enforce current criminal laws against most abusive priests due to human factors; criminal law only allows a limited amount of punishment. As an organization, there is almost no hope that the New Jersey Catholic Church will be held criminally liable for misconduct. Criminal justice systems are not designed for such complex cases.
There is, however, an alternative justice system available. Private lawsuits allow you to tell your personal story, putting your quest for justice at the center of the process. Criminal prosecutors have nothing to do with this lawsuit. In addition, unlike a criminal case, civil actions may be prepared to tell nuanced stories of negligence and misconduct, such as those involving individual priests as well as entire Church organizations.
In addition to making these stories more accessible, New Jersey has also taken steps to ensure that they can be told. A bill that extends the statute of limitations for survivors of childhood sexual abuse has been approved by the New Jersey State Senate. In approving the new law, the limits on how much time plaintiffs have to file a private lawsuit would be extended.
If the survivors discover the link between abuse and their injuries after reaching the age of 55, they would have until then to file a civil suit or within seven years of discovering the links. Current law gives victims only two years. But the law goes further, granting survivors whose claims were otherwise barred a 2-year "window of justice." Surviving victims who were once barred from filing suits would be able to do so again.
In parallel, New Jersey's churches are working hard to cover up the scandal. They have announced the launch of a state-wide program to offer compensation to sexual abuse victims and their families. Ken Feinberg and Camille S. Biros, two victim compensation experts who have managed funds similar to those in New York and Pennsylvania, are set to administer the New Jersey Compensation Fund for Victims of Church Sexual Abuse of Minors. Church funds will be used for the awarding of compensation.
However, critics claim that the awards provided through the New Jersey Compensation Fund for Victims of Church Sexual Abuse of Minors will prove insufficient. There has been some criticism that the New Jersey clergy abuse compensation program is merely a callous maneuver used by the Church to avoid civil lawsuits brought by private citizens. Indeed, those who agree to receive compensation from the fund are forced to sign away their right to file a private lawsuit.
Our New Jersey sexual abuse law firm is here to assist you or a loved one if they have been abused by a member of the clergy anywhere in New Jersey. We passionately believe your story should be told and we will employ all legal recourses to fight for justice. Contact us today to learn more.