San Francisco Clergy Abuse Lawyers
Suffering sexual abuse at the hands of a trusted religious leader is a devastating experience. All too often, it happens to children. Because they cannot understand why it happened or how to deal with it, they suppress their mental anguish and spiritual pain.
Thankfully, the California legislature recognized this reality and has allowed survivors more time to come forward. And hundreds in northern California are doing so. This includes many raised in the Archdiocese of San Francisco, which covers parishes in San Francisco, Marin, and San Mateo counties. Like many other religious organizations, this Archdiocese of San Francisco moved predator priests from parish to parish without ever disclosing their proclivity for sexually abusing children.
But we can stop this cover-up. The mission of every San Francisco clergy abuse attorney at Boucher LLP is to expose sexual predators and the harms they committed upon children in the Catholic community. We proudly represent the strong men and women who are bringing this horror to an end, thereby protecting all who come after them.
Sexual Abuse is a Crime
There is no question that sexual assault of a child or adult is a crime. No matter what a pastor, priest, nun, or any other church official may have told you, what they did was not ok. And it was not your fault.
Clergy members often groom children by building an emotional connection and a relationship of trust. And then they betray that trust by convincing the child that indecent exposure is normal. It is not. Then they move on to other sexual acts. But all forms of sexual contact with a child are illegal.
A child cannot consent to sexual contact of any kind, period. In fact, no contact is required. It is also a crime to make a child watch masturbation or pornography.
The government can prosecute the perpetrators of these crimes to the fullest extent of the law. However, the burden of proof for criminal cases requires proof “beyond a reasonable doubt” that the person is guilty. Because this high standard can be hard to meet, prosecutors do not always bring charges in sexual abuse cases. And even when they do, only the perpetrator of the sexual abuse is prosecuted, while the archdioceses or dioceses that enabled or covered up the abuse escape liability. That is why civil litigation is necessary to bring these institutions to justice for the role they played in perpetuating the sexual abuse.
Confronting Abuse by a Priest or Pastor Through Litigation
When the San Francisco clergy abuse lawyers at Boucher LLP investigate your case, they will make sure everyone who made the abuse possible faces consequences. This can include:
- The pastor or priest who hurt you,
- The church official you or your parents reported the abuse to who did nothing,
- The individuals who moved the priest to a new parish instead of removing them from the church, and
- The diocese or archdiocese that allowed these shameful acts to repeat themselves over and over again.
We take our responsibility as advocates very seriously and will put in the time and legwork necessary to prove your case.
California Statute of Limitations Extended for Clergy Sex Abuse Cases
California laws always specify a statute of limitations, which is the amount of time you have to bring a civil claim. Until recently, those who were sexually abused by clergy members as children had a small window of time to bring claims against the predators and the church. But in 2019, California enacted the Child Victims Act, which extended the deadlines.
A San Francisco clergy abuse attorney from our office can help you determine the statute of limitations for your case. Generally, if a clergy member sexually assaulted you as a child (that is, when you were under age 18), you may file a lawsuit:
- 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.
You get the benefit of whichever comes later. But the law also revived expired claims. So even if your claim was untimely before January 1, 2020, when the new law took effect, you now have until December 31, 2022, to file a lawsuit.
It is worth noting that the church was so eager to curtail its liability that the Archbishop of San Francisco joined bishops from all over northern California to petition the United States Supreme Court to determine California’s law to be unconstitutional. Thankfully, the Supreme Court denied the petition. This allows all survivors to continue to bravely come forward with claims against predatory priests until December 31, 2022.
Now is the Time to Join Other Courageous Survivors
According to the nonprofit agency CalMatters, more than 200 people in Northern California have filed suit since the Child Victims Act was enacted. Another 800 are in the process of filing. Many of these survivors have had to overcome incredible hardships to reach the point where they are ready to take legal action against their abusers. For some, it was a matter of becoming sober after using drugs or alcohol to cope with the trauma. Others were shamed by parents who never believed them, but now, having outlived those parents, they are ready to stand up for themselves and speak their truth.
The San Francisco clergy sexual abuse lawyers at Boucher LLP have heard from so many clients about the pain and struggles that prevented them from speaking up. We understand how difficult it can be to revisit past trauma, and our trauma informed legal team is here to listen when you are ready.
Trust a Boucher LLP’s Team of Seasoned San Francisco Clergy Abuse Attorneys to Stand With You
On your path forward, the first thing you can do for yourself is get more information. Then you can make an informed decision about whether to seek justice. When you speak with the trauma informed attorneys at Boucher LLP , your conversation is confidential and at no cost to you. After that, you can decide whether you wish to proceed with legal action. Our firm’s goal is to provide the best advocacy possible for those who want to free themselves from the burden of carrying this pain alone. But that is a very individual decision, and we do not pressure anyone to make a choice that is not right for them. It is important, however, to understand that for most, the time for filing a legal claim is running out.
If you want to pursue litigation, know that the team at Boucher LLP has been at the forefront of tackling the scourge of clergy sexual abuse. We led the fight to resolve hundreds of cases in Los Angeles and now represent survivors seeking the same justice in the San Francisco Bay Area. Compassion, empathy, and empowerment are at the heart of everything we do. Let us walk beside you on your path to closure, recovery, and strength. Contact us today for a consultation.