The short answer: Yes.
When a child is harmed by the church, culpability and liability can land on more than the abuser.
- A bishop or cardinal whose job it was to oversee the clergy responsible
- The local diocese in charge of supervising the church leadership and reporting suspected abuse
- A living or dead clergy member, priest, nun, minister, deacon, or lay volunteer
Can You Sue The Vatican For Damages? Is the Pope Responsible?
A Texas judge ruled in 2005 that the Pope himself was “immune from litigation for conspiracy as a head of state.”
But more recently, U.S. District Judge Michael W. Mosman ruled that the Vatican could be sued. This decision was upheld by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco in 2012. Lawsuits filed against the Vatican in 2019 are pending, so time will tell if the Vatican will be held responsible in civil court.
Important Considerations for Survivors of Abuse Seeking Restitution from The Church
Under Texas law, there is no statute of limitations for the crime of sexual assault on a child. That means that there is no expiration date for justice when someone commits sexual assault against a minor. However, there is a statute of limitations if you’re trying to seek damages in civil court. A 2019 Texas law titled HB3809 changed the statute of limitations for filing a civil lawsuit from 15 to 30 years from the date the victim turns 18.
What does that mean for abuse survivors?
It means there is a deadline for filing a civil lawsuit.
It breaks down like this:
If you were less than 33 years old as of September 1, 2019 you are granted a period of 30 years from your 18th birthday to sue for civil damages in cases of child sexual abuse. But, if you were over age 33 on September 1, 2019, you’re too late to seek restitution in civil court. The new law is not retroactive.
However, you can still get justice by filing a police report and appealing to the District Attorney’s office. That’s because, as mentioned above, there is no criminal statute of limitations for child sexual abuse in Texas.
If you’re looking for guidance on the best approach, you should immediately contact a lawyer to review your options. A legal expert can help guide you through whether you qualify, what you can expect, what you’ll need moving forward. They can outline the best options for your case moving forward. Nothing can heal wounds from childhood sexual abuse by clergy. But that doesn’t mean that nothing should be done.
Contact us today and take the initiative in the fight for what you deserve as a victim of sexual abuse. Remember: we work on a contingency basis. That means that survivors pay nothing upfront or out-of-pocket. No legal fees are due until we win your case. There’s no risk in getting started and following through on getting justice and restitution.