In recent years, decades of sexual abuse perpetrated against children by clergy members of the Roman Catholic Church have been brought to light. Bravely, survivors have come forward determined to hold the church accountable through legal action. Suffering sexual abuse is a traumatic experience regardless of the perpetrator. Such a violation is especially devastating when the aggressor is a trusted clergy member who is well respected by the church and the victim’s family.
California law provides both civil and criminal recourse in cases of clergy abuse. Consulting a Los Angeles clergy abuse lawyer may help you decide whether to pursue civil action against your abuser. The Los Angeles personal injury lawyers at Arias Sanguinetti Wang & Team, LLP, are experienced in helping clients seek justice by holding perpetrators, including the organizations who have covered up their actions, responsible. For more information contact our Los Angeles sexual abuse lawyer.
Who Can Be Held Liable for Clergy Abuse in Los Angeles?
Some mistakenly believe only the specific priest, pastor, or other clergy members who committed the sexual abuse can be held liable. This can seem discouraging given that most clergy members would not be able to fulfill any monetary awards owed to their victims. Monetary damages aside, most survivors are primarily motivated to share their survival stories in order to prevent the heinous abuse they endured from happening to others.
Religious organizations that should have helped prevent the abuse can also be held at least partially responsible. If a religious institution or its members were on notice of the likelihood of sexual abuse occurring in some way or participated in a coverup, they also can be held accountable for negligence.
Examples of those who can also be held liable for clergy abuse include the following:
- The Church
- The Diocese
- The Archdiocese
Other clergy members not listed above could also potentially face legal ramifications if their negligence contributed to the clergy’s abuse or any resulting coverups. Consulting a Los Angeles clergy abuse lawyer can help you understand the options available to you and decide whether to file a lawsuit seeking justice.
At Arias Sanguinetti Wang & Team, LLP, we are experienced in evaluating the facts of a case to determine whether a religious institution or its members may have committed negligence in a clergy sexual abuse case.
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How Long After Experiencing Clergy Abuse Do I Have to File Legal Claims in Los Angeles?
Many clergy abuse survivors wonder how much time they have to file legal action against a perpetrator or their religious organization. This is a valid concern as each case is governed by a California statute of limitations that dictates how long someone has to file a lawsuit after an incident has occurred.
In the past, many survivors felt they had to suffer in silence if they did not immediately pursue justice against the perpetrators or the religious institutions that helped cover up the clergy member’s actions. Fortunately, California law (AB 218) is providing new hope for some of these survivors.
The Child Victims Act Allows Childhood Sexual Abuse Survivors to Seek Justice
Also known as the Child Victims Act, California law (AB 218) extends the statute of limitations for childhood sexual abuse survivors to file suit to recover losses sustained due to the abuse they suffered. Effective January 1, 2020, the statute of limitations has been extended to the following:
- 22 years after the plaintiff reaches the legal age of majority (i.e., by the age of 40)
- Five years after the plaintiff discovers—or reasonably should have discovered—that the psychological harm or illness that developed after reaching the age of majority was brought on by sexual assault
Whatever your circumstances, the later deadline will apply to your case.
The Child Victims Act’s Look-Back Window
The law also contains a powerful look-back window. This window allows survivors to bring lawsuits against perpetrators and religious institutions over allegations of childhood abuse that were previously time-barred. It is important to note that this look-back window only runs for three years, from January 1, 2020, through December 31, 2022.
It is crucial for survivors who wish to take advantage of this new law to act as soon as possible. The Child Victims Act also allows courts to triple the number of monetary damages that can be awarded to survivors if organizations or clergy members attempted to cover up the alleged clergy abuse.
Los Angeles Clergy Sexual Abuse Lawyer Near Me 310-844-9696
What Are My Legal Options for Obtaining Monetary Compensation for California Clergy Abuse?
Whether experienced as an adult or a child, sexual abuse by clergy can have a branching impact on how you develop relationships with those around you and yourself. It can also have a lasting negative impact on one’s health, finances, emotions, and spirituality. Survivors have the option of pursuing damages for the trauma of clergy abuse by filing a lawsuit.
Filing a lawsuit gives survivors the opportunity to seek justice and to ensure that future children are protected from clergy abuse. Survivors can also pursue the compensation they are rightfully owed for their injuries and suffering. In certain circumstances, the court may also award punitive damages to punish abusers.
Contact a Los Angeles Clergy Abuse Attorney at Arias Sanguinetti Wang & Team, LLP
Those who report clerical abuse do so with great courage and strength, and they deserve an understanding and compassionate attorney by their side to support them and protect their rights. When pursuing justice and accountability in California courts, it is in your best interest to consult a lawyer with experience working with survivors of clergy abuse.
At Arias Sanguinetti Wang & Team, LLP, we are committed to helping our clients seek justice for the wrongs committed against them. We can evaluate the specific facts of a case for those who are seeking a Los Angeles clergy abuse lawyer. We are a completely confidential and secure outlet. Our attorneys would be honored to hear your stories and help discuss your options with you. To arrange a consultation, you can contact us online or call (310) 844-9696.