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SEXUAL ABUSE LAWSUITS

CATHOLIC CHURCH SEX ABUSE LAWSUITS

Fighting for Sexual Abuse Survivors Nationwide

Levy Konigsberg is actively investigating claims from survivors who were sexually abused within the Catholic Church. As a nationally recognized trial practice, we’ve known as a leader in the field of sexual abuse litigation and have helped survivors and families across the country fight for justice.

You may have a sexual abuse claim against the Catholic Church if:

  • You were sexually abused as a minor or an adult within the Church.
  • The abuser was a priest, clergy member, or some other Church volunteer or employee.
  • Your abuse occurred at any time in the past.

Baltimore Archdiocese Files for Bankruptcy After Passing of Maryland Child Victims Act

In 2023, Maryland lawmakers passed groundbreaking legislation known as the Maryland Child Victims Act (CVA).

The Act, which solidified Maryland’s stature as one of the nation’s most survivor-friendly states, greatly expanded the rights of child sexual abuse survivors by providing them with new and unprecedented opportunities to pursue justice against abusers and any institutions that failed to protect them.

Most notably, the Maryland Child Victims Act:

  • Eliminated the statute of limitations for civil lawsuits based on child sexual abuse, which means that there is no deadline by which survivors must initiate legal action.
  • Created an unlimited lookback period that allows child sexual abuse survivors to file lawsuits over abuse that occurred at any time in the past, even if such claims were barred by the previous statute of limitations.

By eliminating the statute of limitations for civil child sexual abuse lawsuits and creating an unlimited lookback window for survivors with previously time-barred claims, the Maryland Child Victims Act opens the door to what could potentially be thousands of civil lawsuits. This includes countless claims against institutions with long histories of child sexual abuse problems, such as various Maryland juvenile detention centers, Maryland schools, and the Baltimore Archdiocese, which has faced credible accusations involving the sexual abuse of more than 600 children dating back to the 1940s.

In fact, the Baltimore Archdiocese viewed claims filed under the Child Victims Act as such a threat that it preemptively filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in September 2023, just days before the Child Victims Act took effect on October 1, 2023.

In its bankruptcy petition, the Archdiocese listed its estimated assets between just over $100 million and $500 million, and its estimated liabilities between $500 million and $1 billion. At the time of the petition’s filing, 685 sexual abuse survivors were listed among its creditors. As that figure was reported prior to the opening of the Child Victims Act, the number of survivors is expected to grow considerably.

What the Baltimore Archdiocese’s Bankruptcy Means for Sexual Abuse Survivors

The Baltimore Archdiocese has been harshly criticized for its decision to file Chapter 11 bankruptcy ahead of the opening of the Child Victims Act, with many arguing that it was a calculated effort by the Church to protect its bottom line and deprive victims of their right to seek justice in trial courts.

As our team has seen many times in the past, institutions and corporations facing significant legal liabilities – such as sizeable number of civil lawsuits filed by victims seeking compensation – will often file for bankruptcy to shield themselves from liability and protect their assets. In some cases, such as those involving sexual abuse and the potential for serious reputational harm, institutions are further motivated to file for bankruptcy because doing so places an immediate halt on civil claims, removes claims from the civil justice system, and places them into the bankruptcy, a far less transparent forum.

The tactic of filing bankruptcy in the face of mounting civil lawsuits allows institutions and corporations to deprive victims of their right to seek justice in trial courts, where their claims can be heard by a jury. It also has important practical implications that anyone with a potential claim should understand.

If you have a potential claim involving child sexual abuse within the Baltimore Archdiocese, the Archdiocese’s bankruptcy filing means that:

  • Your claim will be filed in bankruptcy court. If you are seeking compensation for damages suffered because you were sexually abused as a child by a priest or other Catholic clergy member in Baltimore, you must file a claim with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court rather than a civil court. While the Archdiocese can no longer be sued, other entities such as Catholic schools and individual parishes can still face civil lawsuits under the Child Victims Act. Our team can evaluate the most appropriate legal pathway for your matter during a consultation.
  • The bankruptcy settlement process is different from civil court. Now that the Archdiocese has sought bankruptcy protection, all claims will be processed through the bankruptcy court. This process is different from that used to adjudicate civil claims and will generally involve the structuring of a settlement among claimants, the Archdiocese, and the bankruptcy trustee.
  • You still need to prove the validity of your claim. While the process of resolving a sexual abuse claim is different when it is done through the bankruptcy process rather than a civil court, claimants will still need to prove that they have valid claims. This means your will need to provide sufficient evidence, such as witness testimony and other supporting documentation, when completing a claim form, which will be made available on the Archdiocese’s website (www.archbalt.org). As the bankruptcy judge has noted, substantial information will be needed to determine whether a claim is valid.
  • Claims must be filed before May 31st. While the Maryland Child Victims Act eliminated the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse lawsuits, there is a legal deadline, known as the “bar date” for filing claims with the Baltimore Archdiocese Settlement Fund. In December, the Court set May 31, 2024 as the deadline.

At Levy Konigsberg, we have recovered millions of dollars in compensation for sexual abuse victims and have extensive experience in matters involving bankruptcy settlement funds. In addition to high-profile litigation against powerful institutions, members of our team, including Partner Audrey Raphael, have also served on committees representing sexual abuse survivors in numerous bankruptcies.

Given the unique rule and procedures involved in these cases, the need for supporting evidence, and the looming May 31st deadline, we encourage anyone with a potential claim involving sexual abuse that occurred before September 29, 2023 to contact our team for a free and confidential consultation.

Do I Have a Case?

You may be eligible to seek compensation from the Baltimore Archdiocese bankruptcy settlement fund if:

  • You were sexually abused by a priest, clergy member, Church volunteer, or other individual associated with a Church, Catholic school, or Church-affiliated program in the Baltimore Archdiocese.
  • The abuse occurred any time before September 29, 2023.

As with civil sexual abuse cases, claims filed with the bankruptcy settlement fund are separate from any criminal proceedings that may arise from abuse. Instead, they focus on holding the Archdiocese liable for damages. This means you may still have a claim even if:

  • Your abuser is no longer alive.
  • Your abuser was never charged or convicted of a crime.

Determining whether you have grounds to pursue a claim can be challenging, which is why our team at Levy Konigsberg is readily available to help. Given that there is a May 31 deadline, we’re standing by to offer FREE and confidential consultations and assist survivors in constructing claims as soon as possible.

Support for Survivors Throughout the Baltimore Archdiocese

Our firm is investigating claims from survivors who were sexually abused as children in all Catholic Churches, Catholic schools, and other church-affiliated programs overseen by the Baltimore Archdiocese at any time in the past. This includes those located in:

  • The city of Baltimore
  • Alleghany County
  • Anne Arundel County
  • Baltimore County
  • Carroll County
  • Frederick County
  • Garrett-Hartford County
  • Howard County
  • Washington County

What Damages Can Sexual Abuse Survivors Recover?

    In addition to providing accountability and a sense of justice, a sexual abuse claim filed with the Baltimore Archdiocese bankruptcy settlement fun can allow survivors to recover financial compensation for their damages, which may include:

    • Past medical and mental health expenses
    • Future mental health expenses, including therapy, medications, etc.
    • Pain and suffering
    • Emotional anguish and psychological harm
    • Lost income
    • Other economic and non-economic damages

    Our attorneys at Levy Konigsberg know that child sexual abuse has profound and lifelong consequences, especially when it is perpetrated by people in positions of trust and authority. We can evaluate the potential value of your claim and discuss how we can fight for the maximum recovery possible during a consultation.

    Levy Konigsberg: Leaders in Sex Abuse Litigation

    Levy Konigsberg is a top-rated trial practice and a recognized leader in fighting for survivors of sexual abuse in claims. It’s why we’re trusted by clients and colleagues across the country to handle the toughest cases and take on the most powerful defendants.

    Our work in this area includes:

    • More than $50 million in compensation recovered for sexual abuse survivors nationwide.
    • Extensive experience litigating against powerful institutions, including religious institutions such as the Catholic Church, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and more.
    • Proven experience in civil trial courts and bankruptcy settlement fund proceedings.
    • Award-winning recognition from peers and the media – including recent coverage in The Baltimore Sun for groundbreaking work representing survivors abused in Maryland juvenile detention centers.

    Call For a FREE Consultation: (800) 315-3806

    Levy Konigsberg has built a legacy for litigating high-stakes sexual abuse lawsuits on behalf of survivors across Maryland and the U.S., and for our ability to take on powerful private and public institutions that failed to protect victims. Now, we’re looking to help survivors sexually abused in the Baltimore Archdiocese explore their options for seeking justice.

    • Maryland Office: 145 West Ostend Street, Suite 600 Baltimore, MD 21230

    If you have questions about a potential Baltimore Archdiocese bankruptcy settlement fund claim or a civil lawsuit filed against a Catholic school, independent parish, or other Catholic Diocese anywhere in Maryland, we want to help. We serve survivors statewide and work on contingency, which means there’s no cost to hire our team and no fee unless we win.

    Call (800) 315-3806 or contact us online for a FREE and confidential consultation.

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    Find out whether you have a case by speaking to one of our experienced lawyers via our 24/7 toll-free hotline or by submitting an email inquiry. Our attorneys will be quick to respond to you and happy to answer all of your questions.

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