Suffering sexual abuse can be traumatic no matter who the perpetrator is; however, such a violation seems especially devastating when it comes from a trusted clergy member. California law provides both civil and criminal recourse in cases of clergy abuse. Consulting with a Los Angeles clergy abuse lawyer may help you decide whether to take civil action against your abuser. The attorneys at Arias Sanguinetti Wang & Torrijos, LLP, are experienced in helping clients seek justice by holding the perpetrators, or the organizations who have covered up their actions, responsible.
Some survivors mistakenly believe that only the specific priest, pastor, or other clergy member who committed the sexual abuse can be held liable. This can seem discouraging in light of the fact that most clergy members would not be able to satisfy any monetary settlements made or damages awards owed to the victim. Aside from any financial restitution, most survivors also want to prevent the heinous abuse they endured from happening to others.
Larger religious organizations who should have helped prevent the abuse can also be held at least partially responsible. If a religious institution or its members helped contribute to the sexual abuse in some way or participated in a coverup, they also can be held accountable for such negligence.
Examples of those who can also face penalties for clergy abuse include:
Other clergy members not listed above could also potentially face repercussions if their negligence contributed to the clergy abuse or any resulting coverups. Consulting with a Los Angeles clergy abuse lawyer can help you decide whether to file a lawsuit seeking justice. At Arias Sanguinetti Wang & Torrijos, 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.
Many clergy abuse survivors wonder how long they have to file legal claims against a perpetrator or their religious organization. This is a valid concern, since each case is governed by a California statute of limitations that dictates how long someone has to file a claim after an incident has occurred.
In California, claimants typically may file child sexual harassment claims for up to eight years after the child reaches the age of majority. Survivors of the abuse may file claims until they reach age twenty-six. For those survivors who were abused after the age of eighteen, they have two years after the date of injury, or three years from the discovery date, to file. Parents wishing to file on their child’s behalf likewise have the same time period.
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.
Also known as the Child Victims Act, this new California started on January 1, 2020, and it extends the statute of limitations for childhood sexual abuse survivors to file suit. 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.
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 amount of monetary damages that can be awarded to survivors if organizations or clergy members attempted to cover up the alleged clergy abuse. These new factors can be life-changing for those who formerly felt they had no choice but to forego justice for the heinous acts they endured.
At Arias Sanguinetti Wang & Torrijos, 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. Our attorneys are prepared to help you. To arrange a free consultation, you can contact us online or call (310) 844-9696.