Los Angeles Clergy Abuse Attorney
It seems unimaginable that anyone could sexually abuse a child. But as we have learned in recent years, for decades upon decades, clergy members around the world have taken advantage of their positions as trusted, respected ministers to do heinous things to men, women, and children. And when brave survivors spoke up, church officials moved the abusive clergy members, hid the conduct, and tried to silence the people who reported the crimes.
But the tide has turned. Survivors have come forward publicly and forced the Catholic Church to atone for this deplorable conduct by some of its clergy members. This atonement has included purging these priests and those who enabled them from the church. It has also included providing financial reparations to those who have suffered at the hands of these predators.
The Fight Continues
In Los Angeles, sexual abuse survivors have turned to the courts to continue this work. If you are one of these survivors and think you might be ready to fight for justice, contact a Los Angeles clergy abuse lawyer at Boucher LLP for a free consultation. The meeting is confidential, and we will not pressure you to sue. Our firm led an effort to obtain a very large settlement of hundreds of cases against the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, so we understand what you’re going through, and we know how to advocate for you.
We can tell you what conduct crossed the line. We will check if the priest that harmed you is one of the hundreds we have exposed already. And we will help you to know that absolutely none of it was your fault. Our trauma-informed team will be there for you every step of the way. We can help connect you to resources that can help you cope with and heal from the trauma you endured.
What Is Clergy Abuse?
Types of Abuse
Sexual abuse includes touching and non-touching offenses. Examples include:
- Rape or attempted rape,
- Touching a child’s genital area,
- Forcing or coercing someone to perform oral sex,
- Performing oral sex on a child or adult,
- Masturbating or coercing a child to masturbate,
- Showing a child pornography, and
- Indecent exposure.
Often, clergy misconduct includes a component of grooming, where a priest might build a relationship, trust, and emotional connection with a child or young person so they can manipulate, exploit and abuse him or her. Once this relationship of trust is established, the abuser is then in a position to convince a vulnerable child that this type of sexual interaction is normal or that it is somehow their fault. It is never the child’s fault. A child cannot consent to any sexual contact. And no matter what the priest may have said, what happened was not allowed or normal.
This type of sexual abuse causes physical, emotional, financial, and spiritual harm. Though nothing can take away the pain you have experienced, sometimes breaking your silence and fighting to make sure the priest never hurts anyone else can be empowering and provide much-needed closure.
Perpetrators of the Abuse
In many, if not most, clergy abuse cases, it’s not just the priest who is guilty. Frequently, the parish, diocese, bishop, archbishop, or archdiocese knew about the priest’s actions and chose to cover it up. They may have moved the priest or changed his assignment, but they did not disclose his conduct to unsuspecting parishioners or take any action to prevent him from sexually abusing more children. This is wrong.
Because this kind of cover-up perpetuates the problem and results in continued harm, the law triples the damages these entities have to pay. A court also may issue an injunction to make the church change its ways. Only when we force the church to stop protecting predator priests will we end the culture of abuse.
How Can a Los Angeles Clergy Sexual Abuse Lawyer Help Me?
At some point, you will be ready to talk about what happened and take back control of your life. When that time arrives, it’s comforting to speak with a trauma-informed attorney who has helped other survivors who have suffered sexual abuse at the hands of a clergy member. We will listen to your story and do everything we can to collect the evidence needed to hold the priest who hurt you accountable.
In all likelihood, the priest who abused you abused other children. Rarely does a pedophile have only one victim. You may find the priest is one of the 349 Los Angeles priests who have already been credibly accused of child sexual abuse. Our files from the Los Angeles Archdioceses can show you where these priests worked and when. Then we can work to ensure they face the consequences of their actions. Or, you may be the first to come forward and identify the priest who abused you, which could give other survivors who were abused by the same priest the courage to also speak up.
It’s also important to understand that just because a priest hasn’t been convicted of a crime doesn’t mean you can’t win a civil judgment against him. To obtain a criminal conviction, a prosecutor must prove the individual is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. But for civil cases, the burden of proof is the lower “preponderance of evidence” standard, which, simply put, means more likely than not.
The Los Angeles clergy sexual abuse attorneys at Boucher LLP will work with you to build a strong case. While we cannot undo the harm that has been done, monetary compensation can help you afford the resources you need to help you heal.
How Soon Do I Need to Decide?
A clergy abuse attorney in our Los Angeles office can also aid in figuring out how much time you have to file a lawsuit. Civil laws governing clergy abuse cases have statutes of limitations, which limit the time you have to bring a claim. Until a few years ago, some of the deadlines were short. Thankfully, the California legislature recognized that many people suppress their terrible memories of abuse. As a result, they may not recall the trauma until years later when they reach adulthood or have children. But under a new law, AB 218, you now have more time to seek justice in court.
If a clergy member sexually assaulted you as an adult (age 18 or over), you may bring an action:
- Within ten years from the date of the last sexual assault, attempted sexual assault, or assault with the intent to commit sexual assault; or
- Within three years of when you discover, or reasonably should have discovered, that an injury or illness resulted from a sexual assault, attempted sexual assault, or assault with the intent to commit sexual assault.
The deadline is whichever of these dates is later.
AB 218 also revived previously expired claims. This means that if the statute of limitations would have barred your claim before January 1, 2020, you now have until December 31, 2022, to file a lawsuit.
If a clergy member sexually assaulted you as a child (under age 18), you may file a lawsuit:
- Before December 31, 2022, no matter how long ago the abuse occurred,
- Within 22 years after you turn 18, or
- Within five years of the date when you discover, or reasonably should have discovered that your psychological injury or illness in adulthood was caused by childhood assault.
Again, you get the benefit of whichever comes later.
Count on an Experienced Los Angeles Clergy Abuse Attorney
As our record of taking on clergy abuse, sexual assault, and sexual harassment cases shows, the attorneys at Boucher LLP are committed to obtaining justice for the courageous men, women, and children who stand up to those who abuse positions of power and the institutions that protect them.
We successfully held the Los Angeles Archdioceses accountable for its past abuses and cover-ups. And we continue to expose clergy misconduct. The Los Angeles clergy abuse attorneys at Boucher LLP will fight to get you the justice and financial restitution that will allow you to rebuild your life and go forward stronger. Contact us today for a free consultation.