Sexual Abuse of Children by Priests, Clergy, and Other Religious Leaders
In 2002, one of the largest and most shocking sex abuse scandals by a religious institution was uncovered and criminal charges were brought against five Roman Catholic priests in the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston after thousands of minors alleged that priests had engaged in sexual abuse for decades with the aid of a cover-up by a number of large dioceses. Despite the U.S. bishop’s purported “zero tolerance” policy following this news, scores of reports of decades-old abuse by clergy and willful lack of appropriate action by superiors continue to surface, most notably in a report accusing 300 priests of molesting more than 1,000 victims going back 70 years in the Pennsylvania Archdiocese. Victims of abuse by members of the Catholic clergy can seek damages for the pain and suffering they experienced as a result of the abuse.
Attention: New York and New Jersey Law Provides Additional Time for Sexual Abuse Survivors to Bring Action
Failure to Supervise Perpetrators of Abuse
One of the most shocking aspects of the Catholic Church abuse scandal is the widespread and systematic effort by superiors to conceal abuse and protect perpetrators while failing to take corrective action. In many instances, complaints of sexual abuse were ignored or offenders were simply relocated to other parishes where they would abuse other children. Liability for sexual abuse extends beyond the individual priests who committed abuse; other clergy members who worked closely with abusers, bishops who were in charge of overseeing the priests in their parishes, and dioceses that were ultimately responsible for supervising the clergy within their organizations can all be held accountable for sexual abuse of children. In one of the largest settlements for individual victims, four men were awarded $27.7 million in a settlement with the Diocese of Brooklyn for sexual abuse by a religion teacher at St. Lucy’s-St. Patrick’s Church in Brooklyn. The court stated that the Diocese of Brooklyn ignored clear signs of the abuse, including inappropriate contact witnessed by other Church employees, and failed to report suspicious behavior to the proper authorities.
Sexual Abuse Among Other Religious Groups
While many high-profile cases of sexual abuse have occurred in the Catholic Church, sexual abuse among leaders in religious organizations is not limited to the Roman Catholic Church. Numerous reports of sexual abuse of children in Jewish youth organizations, synagogues, and religious schools have surfaced in recent years. . Other religious institutions, including the Southern Baptist Church and Mormon Church, have likewise been accused of fostering abuse and attempting to silence claims of widespread sexual assault. The common thread—institutional leaders attempting to cover up and protect abusers at the cost of accountability and a safe environment for children.
Levy Konigsberg LLP is a nationally recognized law firm that has handled all types of negligence cases for more than three decades. If you or a member of your family has been the victim of sexual misconduct by a priest, clergy, or other religious member, please contact our lawyers for a free consultation by calling 1-800-988-8005.