Number of Sexual Abuse Lawsuits Against Catholic Clergy Continues to Rise
The Roman Catholic Church has spent decades trying to deal with the sad fact that, for years, many of its priests and laity have been accused of sexual abuse of children and other vulnerable members of its faith community. The extent of this abuse is best understood by reviewing an often-overlooked report from Pennsylvania.
In July of 2018 the State of Pennsylvania’s Attorney General’s Office released an 800+-page report of a statewide Grand Jury probe into sexual abuse that occurred within 6 of the state’s 8 Roman Catholic dioceses. According to that report, the Grand Jury discovered over 300 “credible allegations” involving over 1,000 child victims made against current and former members of the clergy. The report also states that those allegations “…were brushed aside, in every part of the state, by church leaders who preferred to protect the abusers and their institution above all.”
Although now rarely mentioned in the national news media, lawsuits by survivors of childhood sexual abuse by members of the Roman Catholic clergy continue to be filed. In the first week of August alone, two such lawsuits were filed:
On August 7th a lawsuit was filed in Pittsburgh (PA) alleging that Fr. Leo Burchianti, a priest formerly assigned to the Diocese of Pittsburgh, sexually assaulted a child who was serving as an altar boy when the victim was 14 years old. Although Fr. Burchianti died in 2013, the lawsuit also names the Immaculate Conception Parish, Cardinal Donald Wuerl and Bishop David Zubik as defendants. In the lawsuit, it is alleged that the diocese and its bishops knew that Fr. Burchianti had received treatment for pedophilia on several occasions after “inappropriate relations” with at least 8 boys became known to the diocese. Fr. Burchianti was one of the priests identified by name in the Grand Jury’s report.
On August 5th two former priests from the Las Cruces (NM) diocese, Fr. Roderick Nichols and Fr. Damian Gamboa, were named as defendants in separate lawsuits alleging they sexually abused children while they were assigned to parishes in Silver City NM and Tularosa NM, respectively.
To protect their often-substantial financial assets from lawsuits by victims of clergy sexual abuse, many Catholic dioceses have filed for bankruptcy. Under bankruptcy, sexual abuse victims typically must file a claim against the diocese by a certain deadline or they will be forever banned from bringing a lawsuit after that date. According to bankruptcy court records, at least 25 dioceses and 3 religious orders (the Jesuits of Oregon, the Christian Brothers nationwide, and the Crosier Fathers and Brothers of Minnesota and Arizona) have taken advantage of Chapter 11 (“Reorganization”) protection in the face of potential losses of hundreds of millions of dollars.
If you are a survivor of childhood sexual abuse by a member of the Catholic clergy or Church employee, your first step toward claiming your legal rights should be to contact a lawyer with experience in dealing with each state’s statutes of limitations as well as experience with the bankruptcy courts. One such lawyer is the sexual abuse victims lawyer at The Doan Law Firm, a national law firm with offices located throughout the nation.
When you contact our firm your confidential case review and first consultation with our sexual abuse victims lawyer are always free of charge and do not obligate you in any way to hiring us to represent you in court. Should you later decide to file a lawsuit against your abuser, and that you would like for us to represent you in court, we are willing to assume full responsibility for all aspects of preparing your case for trial in exchange for a percentage of the final settlement we are prepared to win for you.
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