In the U.S., the Roman Catholic Church has faced over 6,000 child abuse cases against Catholic priests. As a result, over $3 billion in compensation has been paid to abuse survivors. As more victims find the courage to step forward, it, in turn, gives others who have suffered in silence the strength to file clergy abuse lawsuits against the Catholic Church. Sadly, the history of abuse in the Catholic Church goes back centuries.
Also, sexual abuse has been proven in cases not just against Catholic dioceses, but also in different religious orders, as well as against religious leaders, and individual abusive clergy members found guilty of sexual abuse and/or cover-up.
The Wave of Lawsuits Against The Church
In the past decade, thousands of survivors of clergy abuse have come forward. This wave of lawsuits is not just focused on recent cases. Instead, there are survivors coming forward to report cases that are decades old. These people have suffered quietly, living with the shame and stigma of sexual abuse. Many of these cases account for the wave of lawsuits in the past 10 years or so.
Victims were abused in their childhood, and it often takes decades for them to understand what happened. They need time to try to overcome their fears and speak out about their experiences. Even the most recent lawsuits surround abuse that took place several years ago. However, lawyers are helping victims find their voices and understand their rights. Victims are encouraged to report their abuse with an expansion of the statute of limitations in Texas for child sex abuse claims providing victims with a legal outlet to pursue their claims.
History of Sexual Abuse
The history of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church dates back as far as 1629 when the first accusations at a school in Rome were recorded. The school was founded by a Spanish priest named Joseph Calasanz to provide education to poor boys. The accusations were made by fellow priests with concerns over “impure friendships with schoolboys.” The accusations regarded Father Stefano Cherubini, who was investigated.
However, Calasanz aimed to cover up what he called “this great shame” so that it was not brought to the attention of his superiors. In fact, instead of dealing with the accused priest, he was actually promoted setting the precedent the Catholic Church continues to follow. This practice of accusations, discovery, promotion, and/or shuffling of known sexual abusers even had a name that translates to mean “promotion for avoidance.” Priority was placed not on the care and protection of the victims, but instead on protecting the reputation of the Church and the perpetrators of the crimes.
Safety in Numbers
Clergy abuse victims are now empowered to take legal action not just against their abusers, but also against the religious organizations that hid the abuse. As a result, lawyers specializing in clergy abuse are able to provide specific services that help sexual abuse victims with the sensitivity required. This will continue to encourage more clergy abuse victims to come forward.