Helping Sex Abuse Survivors File Civil Lawsuits

Rhode Island law gives sexual abuse survivors the right to recover compensation for their damages by pursuing claims against abusers and institutions that failed to protect them. However, these institutions view civil sexual abuse lawsuits as major reputational and financial threats, and often go to great lengths to dispute, deny, and underpay.

At Levy Konigsberg, our sexual abuse team knows how to help survivors fight back.

Comprised of award-winning trial lawyers, we’ve cultivated a legacy for litigating high stakes sex abuse claims nationwide. We’ve taken on powerful entities, public institutions, and religious organizations, and have recovered millions of dollars in compensation for survivors.

If you have a potential case, we want to help. Our Rhode Island sexual abuse attorneys serve survivors statewide and offer FREE and confidential consultations. Call (800) 315-3806 or contact us online to request yours.

We Represent Survivors in All Types of Sex Abuse Claims

Levy Konigsberg has championed the rights of child and adult sexual abuse survivors in claims and courts across the country and has amassed the experience and resources to tackle even the toughest claims. We handle civil suits involving all types of circumstances and institutional defendants, including:

Rhode Island’s Civil Sexual Abuse Statute of Limitations

Sexual abuse lawsuits are civil claims subject to a legal deadline known as the statute of limitations. When the statute of limitations expires, survivors are no longer able to file claims and recover compensation for their damages.

Historically, civil statutes of limitations have acted as major barriers to justice for survivors of sexual abuse. That’s because abuse victims – and especially those who were abused as minors – face long and complicated paths to understanding their abuse and its effects on their lives, and when it comes to making the difficult decision to step forward, speak out, and seek justice.

Fortunately, Rhode Island has taken steps to remove at least some of these barriers. In 2019, for example, state lawmakers passed legislation to expand the statute of limitations in childhood sexual abuse cases. This means that under current Rhode Island law:

  • Survivors of childhood sexual abuse have 35 years from the date they turn 18 (or age 53) to file civil claims against abusers and, specifically, any person or entity considered a “perpetrator” of the abuse.

Pending Rhode Island Measures Could Eliminate Statute of Limitations in Child Sex Abuse Claims

While Rhode Island’s current sexual abuse laws are far from being the worst in the country, they have been sharply criticized for not going far enough – both in terms of the time limit they still place on child sex abuse survivors and how they make it exceedingly difficult to sue institutions such as the Catholic Church for enabling or covering up abuse.

A recent ruling handed down by the Rhode Island Supreme Court illustrates how:

  • In July 2023, the Rhode Island Supreme Court upheld the dismissal of child sex abuse lawsuits brought against officials from the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Providence who enabled and covered-up the sexual abuse of children by priests.
  • In its ruling, the RI Supreme Court held that, while these survivors could maintain their claims against the abusive priests, they could not use the extended 35-year time limit to sue the Providence Archdiocese and officials who are considered “non-perpetrators.”
  • The Court explained that although Archdiocese officials acted with “deplorable” conduct, they did not commit the abuse, or specifically aid or abet the abuse, and therefore were outside the scope of defendants who could be sued under the 35-year time-limit.

This decision was a blow to countless survivors with viable claims against institutions such as the Providence Archdiocese and gave an inexcusable pass to officials, supervisors, and other institutions whose outrageous misconduct directly led to preventable abuse.

If there is a silver lining to this, however, it is that there is now growing support for new legislation that better protects survivors and their ability to hold institutions accountable. One such measure (H 5510) currently working its way through the Rhode Island Legislature would repeal the statute of limitations entirely for claims against abusers and institutions, similar to a law passed in Maine. It would also apply retroactively, giving survivors abused at any time in the past the right to sue.

Levy Konigsberg has extensive experience litigating claims filed under groundbreaking measures like those proposed in Rhode Island and is closely tracking House Bill 5510. We’re available to discuss issues related to the statute of limitations in civil sexual abuse lawsuits and the legal options for survivors looking to pursue claims under current and future laws.

Sexual Abuse Lawsuits Against Rhode Island Catholic Churches

Levy Konigsberg has extensive experience litigating sexual abuse claims against Roman Catholic dioceses nationwide and is now actively investigating claims from survivors who were sexually abused at Catholic Churches, schools, and other Church-affiliated programs across Rhode Island.

As sweeping investigations, public record releases, and legal filings have revealed, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence has struggled for decades to reign in a rampant sexual abuse problem. What’s more, the damning record shows that church officials routinely engaged in actions to conceal complaints, cover up abuse, and enable predator priests. For example:

  • Between November 2020 and December 2023, several Rhode Island priests and clergy members were charged with or convicted of crimes involving child sexual abuse. These include former priests John Petrocelli, James Silva, Edward Kelley, James W. Jackson, and former deacon Kevin Fisette.
  • In 2019, the Providence Diocese released a list of priests who had been credibly accused of child sexual abuse. The list included clergy members from parishes, schools, and other programs across the state accused of abuse dating back to 1950. As of 2024, the Diocese’s list contains over 55 priests and clergy, but likely undercounts the true scope of abuse.
  • In March 2019, the Providence Diocese publicly acknowledged that it paid more than $21 million in its attempts to resolve over 130 clergy sex abuse claims involving priests and church members in parishes and church-run schools throughout the state.
  • In September 2002, the Providence Diocese agreed to pay $13.5 million to 36 survivors who were sexually abused as minors by members of the Catholic Church. The claims involved allegations against 11 priests and a nun.

Learn more about Rhode Island Catholic Church sexual abuse lawsuits.

Sexual Abuse Lawsuits Against Rhode Island Juvenile Residential Centers

Levy Konigsberg has earned national attention fighting on behalf of survivors who were sexually abused in juvenile detention facilities and youth housing and treatment programs nationwide.

Now, we’re working with a growing number of survivors who were sexually abused in Rhode Island juvenile residential centers. This includes the Rhode Island Training School, St. Mary’s Home for Children, and other facilities housing youth under the care of the state’s Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) that have been implicated by investigations and legal filings for failing to protect children from sexual abuse. For example:

  • In December 2023, a report from the Rhode Island Office of the Child Advocate (OCA) found widespread abuse and supervisory issues at St. Mary’s Home for Children, which provides residential and outpatient treatment for children with psychiatric problems and other traumas from five residential homes on its North Providence campus. The OCA report detailed instances of staff-on-youth assaults, physical and sexual abuse, a lack of supervision, criminal activity, and other conditions known to facilitate sexual abuse. Since the report was filed, St. Mary’s has continued to struggle with unsafe conditions, including its ongoing struggle with runaways. According to police logs, local law enforcement handled more than 220 reports of runaway children from St. Mary’s in just two years.

If you were sexually abused by a counselor, teacher, guard, or other staff member at a youth housing or detention center in Rhode Island, you may be entitled to compensation. Levy Konigsberg is available to discuss your case and options during a confidential consultation.

Sexual Abuse Lawsuits Against Rhode Island Schools

Levy Konigsberg is investigating claims from survivors who were sexually abused in Rhode Island schools. This includes public, private, and boarding schools statewide that have faced backlash over failures to adequately screen teachers and staff, properly investigate reported abuse, and uphold their duties to protect students of all ages.

As public records have shown, operators of these schools – including public school districts and entities that operate private or preparatory schools – can be held liable for teacher-on-student and staff-on-student sexual abuse. This was precisely the case in a high-profile 2016 settlement between St. George’s prep school and nearly 30 former students who were sexually abused by seven different teachers between 1974 and 2004.

Learn more about school sexual abuse lawsuits and sexual abuse at daycares and preschools, or contact us to confidentially discuss a potential case.

Can I Still File a Claim If My Abuser Was Never Convicted of a Crime?

Yes. Civil sexual abuse lawsuits function independently from criminal proceedings. They concern only the liability of defendants and do not deal with the criminal culpability of offenders. Civil sex abuse claims also use a lower burden of proof than what’s employed in criminal courts and can be directed toward entities and institutions that failed to prevent abuse.

This means that it is still possible for survivors to file suit even when:

  • Abusers are never criminally investigated, charged, or convicted.
  • Abusers are deceased.

Sexual Abuse Survivors’ Right to Compensation

Survivors whose claims are successfully settled or resolved are entitled to a financial recover of their damages. Given the profound and lifelong suffering endured by sexual abuse survivors, these damages are often considerable. However, every case is unique and case value will depend on the specific facts involved.

Generally, sexual abuse survivors can recover compensation for:

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

Levy Konigsberg: Proven Advocacy in Sex Abuse Litigation

Levy Konigsberg is a Best Law Firms ranked trial practice known for litigating complex claims against powerful defendants. From landmark rulings and record recoveries to resolutions that have changed laws and lives, our record of success speaks for itself.

As proven sexual abuse lawyers, we’ve also made our mark helping survivors for justice. Some of our notable achievements in this field include:

  • Over $50 million in compensation recovered for adult and child sex abuse survivors.
  • Represent hundreds of survivors nationwide, including numerous survivors in states where survivor-friendly legislation has been passed.
  • Widespread media coverage, including features and cover stories and articles in the NY Daily News, Gothamist, and other publications.
  • Experience fighting back against powerful institutions, including the Catholic Church, state and municipal corrections departments, and universities and hospital systems that failed to protect survivors.

You can learn more about our latest sexual abuse work on our blog.

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

Levy Konigsberg represents survivors of adult and child sexual abuse throughout Rhode Island. If you have questions about a claim and how we can help, we encourage you to contact us. We offer FREE and confidential consultations and works on contingency, which means there is no up-front cost to hire our team and no fee unless we win.

To speak with a Rhode Island sexual abuse lawyer, call (800) 315-3806 or contact us online.


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