Sexual Assault in a Religious Organization
Discussing sexual assault is a delicate and often emotional topic for individuals who have been sexually abused. This discussion could become even more complicated if the abuse came from a trusted religious entity, such as a Priest or Rabbi.
Regardless of whether the trauma is recent or if it occurred in the past, it can be challenging to talk about or relive the abuse. The sexual assault lawyers at Goldstein and Bashner understand the difficulties that come with discussing sexual abuse and strive to assist victims through the legal components of their case if they wish to begin taking legal repercussions against their abuser. If you or someone you know was a victim of sexual assault in a religious organization as a child and would like to pursue a claim, a dedicated lawyer could help you understand the legal steps you could take and what options you have at your disposal.
The Statute of Limitations on Sexual Assault
The statute of limitations on sexual assault was once a great handicap for survivors of abuse. It often takes time before victims are ready to come forward and report the crime, and file their own legal action against their perpetrators. When the abuse happened when they were children, too much time had often already passed before victims were ready to talk about the crime.
Under the Child Victims Act, survivors of abuse that happened during childhood had only until they turned 23 to report the crime, not much longer than their 18th birthday. Now though, survivors have until they reach the age of 55, which more than doubles the statute for victims to claim the compensation they need.
Governor Andrew Cuomo also signed legislation into law in September of 2019 that allows victims of other sex crimes up to 20 years to file a civil lawsuit, which is a great deal more than the old one-year statute offered them.
Catholic Church in America
Introduced to the United States in 1789, the Catholic Church is the second largest religious group in the country. Although the widespread practice of the religion has declined in the past few decades, Catholicism still holds an essential place in the lives of many people. Likewise, the Catholic Church continues to provide education, health faculties, and other services throughout the country.
The issue of child abuse within the Catholic Church was first publicized in 1985 and again given national attention by several books on the subject published in the 1990s. As more cases of alleged abuse were brought to light, the pattern of cover-ups in a rising number of dioceses across the United States was also made apparent.
The Church recognized sexual abuse within their organization as a severe problem in 2008, but even after the paying more than $2 billion in settlements from the 1950s to 2007, cases of child abuse without this and other religious organizations continue to be brought to light. Even with dioceses from coast to coast releasing lists of priests accused or convicted of sexual abuse, though, there still appear to be issues of transparency with the church and its members. The extension of the statute of limitations granted by the Child Victims Act allows many more victims of sexual abuse to press charges against their abusers, as well as the institutions that employ them.
How an Attorney Could Help Combat Sexual Abuse in Religious Organizations
With full respect for the sensitive nature of this crime, a knowledgeable sexual assault lawyer could help you understand your rights and fight for what you deserve. In addition to acting as legal counsel, your legal team can also provide resources that could benefit you as you relive previous trauma following sexual assault in a religious organization.
Whether you or someone you know is dealing with child abuse at the hands of an institution such as the Catholic Church, a qualified attorney could help simplify the litigation process and work to hold those responsible for the abuse accountable. Call today to learn more or to schedule a consultation.