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THE FIRM YOU GO TO WHEN THE
STAKES ARE HIGH
SEXUAL ABUSE LAWSUITS

MISSOURI CATHOLIC CHURCH SEXUAL ABUSE LAWSUITS

Representing Survivors of Child & Adult Clergy Abuse

If you or someone you love were sexually abused by a member of the Catholic clergy in Missouri, you may be entitled to compensation.

Sweeping investigations and court records confirm that widespread sexual abuse committed by priests and church members persisted for decades in all four Roman Catholic dioceses in Missouri, and that church leadership enabled predator priests by failing to investigate and report abuse.

As Missouri lawmakers are now considering groundbreaking legislation to extend the statute of limitations in child sex abuse lawsuits and provide victims with new opportunities to seek justice, Levy Konigsberg is helping survivors across the state explore their options for taking legal action against the Catholic church.

Levy Konigsberg has earned national recognition representing survivors nationwide in civil sexual abuse lawsuits– including claims against powerful institutions and religious organizations. If you have questions about a potential case, we want to help. Call or contact us online for a FREE and confidential consultation with a Missouri Catholic church sex abuse attorney.

Missouri AG Report Details Dark Legacy of Sexual Abuse in Missouri Catholic Dioceses

Thanks to sweeping investigations, court filings, and high-profile settlements, we know that child sexual abuse has been a rampant and pervasive problem within Missouri Catholic churches for decades. We also know that leadership within Missouri’s Roman Catholic dioceses overwhelmingly failed to protect victims by engaging in cover-ups that allowed priests to abuse children without consequence.

Some of the most important findings about the scope of sexual abuse within Missouri Catholic churches came from a 2019 report from the Missouri Attorney General. Regarded as the largest-ever independent review of Missouri church personnel records, the Missouri AG report revealed an alarming pattern of abuse and a systemic church-enabled cover-up dating back more than six decades.

Here are some key findings from the report:

  • Investigators found substantial evidence that at least 163 Catholic priests and clergy members abused minors in Missouri churches dating back to 1945.
  • Allegations of sexual abuse by clergy were documented in all four of Missouri’s Roman Catholic dioceses, which include the Diocese of Jefferson City, the Diocese of Kansas City-Saint Joseph, the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau, and the Archdiocese of St. Louis.
  • Investigators found that for decades, church officials inexcusably chose to protect priests and the church’s reputation rather than properly investigate allegations and protect victims.
  • In its efforts to cover up abuse, church leadership would often locate accused priests into new parishes and church positions. Church officials also worked aggressively to defend some abusers, including one priest who was convicted and sentenced to prison.

While the findings are alarming, investigators note that the 163 clergy members in the report include only those identified in church personnel records as having allegations lodged against them. Given the church’s M.O. for concealing allegations, covering-up complaints, and silencing survivors, experts believe the number of predator priests and victims is far higher.

Proposed Law Could Give Survivors Abused as Children More Time to File Suit

In its report, the Missouri Attorney General noted that dozens of cases of sexual abuse identified by investigators were beyond the statute of limitations for both criminal charges and civil lawsuits.

That’s because many cases of abuse occurred decades ago and because survivors of sexual abuse are subject to a statute of limitations that limits how much time they have to file civil claims. Currently, child sex abuse survivors in Missouri have until age 31 to file claims against abusers and only until 26 to file claims against other defendants, including institutions like the Catholic church.

However, this may change if a pending measure is passed.

In a groundbreaking move that recognizes the fact that many survivors abused as children don’t come to terms with what happened to them until much later in life, Missouri lawmakers have proposed a measure to give survivors greater opportunities to seek justice.

If passed, the pending law would:

  • Extend the civil statute of limitations for child victims to age 55.
  • Create a temporary two-year window for child sexual abuse survivors to file claims over abuse that occurred at any time in the past.

Our team at Levy Konigsberg is closely tracking the proposed sexual abuse measures in Missouri and is actively working with survivors looking for information about filing claims now under the current statute of limitations or in the future under an extended statute of limitations or two-year lookback window, should the pending measure become law.

Record Releases, Court Filings Provide Further Insight into Scope of MO Clergy Sex Abuse

In addition to the Missouri AG’s report, numerous court filings and record releases from some dioceses have provided further details about the scope of clergy sex abuse in Missouri and the church’s cover-up efforts. For example:

  • In November 2023, the diocese received a report on April 15, 2022, through the diocese’s abuse hotline alleging sexual solicitation of an adult on the occasion of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The church termed the act a “sacrilege” and a “grave form of abuse.” Missouri Catholic Priest, Father Ignazio Medina has been found guilty by the church of soliciting sex from an adult during confession. As a result, Father Medina is now prohibited from holding office in the church, hearing confessions, and publicly celebrating or leading Mass without explicit permission from his diocesan bishop. Medina was found guilty by the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome on Nov. 27, 2023, and did not appeal the decision.
  • In June 2023, the St. Louis Archdiocese agreed to pay $1 million to settle a lawsuit filed by a man who was sexually abused as a minor by a priest from the Ascension Catholic Church in Chesterfield. The man said he was abused at least four times between 1993 and 1995 by Gary Wolken, who was sentenced to prison in 2003 for abusing another boy between 1997 and 2000.
  • In July 2019, the Archdiocese of St. Louis released a list naming 64 clergy members with substantial allegations of child sexual abuse. The list included 61 clergy members accused of sex abuse and three accused of child pornography.
  • In November 2018, the Archdiocese of St. Louis settled 18 of 21 civil lawsuits filed by adults who were abused as minors for a total of more than $2 million. The cases involved claims of abuse committed by Fathers Michael McGrath, Romano Ferraro, Robert Yim, Bryan Kuchar, Alexander Anderson, and Sister Judith Fischer.

Do I Have a Case?

You may have grounds to file a civil legal action if:

  • You were sexually abused by a priest, church volunteer, or other clergy member.
  • The abuse occurred at a church within any of Missouri’s four Roman Catholic dioceses.

At Levy Konigsberg, we support survivors in civil actions that aim to hold dioceses accountable for their failures to stop abusive priests and protect victims. These civil claims are separate from any criminal proceedings and focus on holding the church liable for damages. This means that you may still have a claim even if:

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

Recoverable Damages in Church Sexual Abuse Claims

In addition to accountability and providing the sense of justice survivors deserve, civil sex abuse lawsuits 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

Call For a FREE Consultation:

Levy Konigsberg has recovered more than $3 billion in compensation for clients, including millions in compensation for survivors of sexual abuse. We’re passionate about helping survivors seek justice and provide the firepower they need to fight back against powerful institutions like the Catholic Church.

If you have questions about pursuing a sexual abuse lawsuit against a Missouri Catholic diocese over abuse that occurred when you were a minor or an adult, we want to help. Call or contact us online for a FREE consultation.

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