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What Should I Do if My Child Was Abused by a Priest?

What Should I Do if My Child Was Abused by a Priest?

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What Should I Do if My Child Was Abused by a Priest?

As one of the preeminent law firms litigating child abuse cases in the United States, the personal injury attorneys at Morgan & Morgan understand that many children are reluctant to name the perpetrators that caused them immense harm. Because of the fear of retribution, many children conceal their pain for years, if not for decades before coming forward with accounts of child abuse. When abuse involves a member of the clergy, a majority of children are even more reluctant to come forward with stories of the horrible crimes committed by priests.

Parents that suspect clergy abuse often wonder what they need to do if their child was abused by a priest. Following a few steps that include meeting with a personal injury lawyer who specializes in litigating child abuse cases can help parents get justice for their children. At Morgan & Morgan, we aggressively pursue cases that involve a priest taking advantage of a vulnerable child by committing one or more abusive acts. The Catholic Church retains an incredible amount of influence in the community, but the rash of recent out-of-court settlements indicates the Catholic Church is being held accountable for attracting abusive members of the clergy.

Knowing what to do if your child was abused by a priest can help you receive monetary damages. The large financial coffers held by the Catholic Church have led to numerous lucrative payouts by judges ruling on civil lawsuits. You also can seek injunctive relief, which forces the Catholic Church to implement measures that stop abusive priests from harming children. Judges and juries that hear child abuse cases have the option to award punitive damages to plaintiffs as well.

At Morgan & Morgan, we have a highly dedicated team of child sex abuse attorneys available to help you seek the justice your child deserves. In addition to working with a team of highly-skilled litigators, you also can expect empathic and compassionate responses to help you cope with the outrage that develops because a member of the clergy misused a position of authority to injure a child mentally, physically, and emotionally.

Schedule a free case evaluation to hold a priest accountable for harming your child.

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FAQ

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  • What Does “Priest Abuse'' Mean?

    When you think of priest abuse, you probably think about acts of a sexual nature. After all, child sex abuse cases involving members of the clergy routinely headline the nightly national news shows. Although child sex abuse cases remain prevalent throughout the United States, other types of child abuse cases plague the Catholic Church as well.

    Some children endure psychological abuse in the form of threats or the withholding of something that they value. Many parishes have come under fire for allowing priests to use force when disciplining children. Although corporal punishment has vanished in public schools, some parochial schools continue to use the abusive practice. Priests are not the only members of the Catholic Church to abuse children, as nuns, bishops, and monsignors have undergone intense scrutiny for charges of abusing children.

  • What Are the Negative Impacts of Child Abuse?

    Children that are the victims of priest abuse can face a lifetime of addressing highly negative thoughts and emotions. Although the physical trauma of child abuse eventually fades away, the memories that develop because of the abuse remain clear for the rest of a child’s lifetime. If your child endured abuse from a member of the clergy, you should act with a sense of urgency by contacting one of the child abuse lawyers at Morgan & Morgan

    Physical Injuries

    Children can develop a wide variety of physical injuries because of the abuse inflicted upon them by a member of the clergy. Sexual acts such as forced rape can leave behind bruises and other types of painful injuries that develop in the genital area. Priests that physically beat children can cause welts and fractures to develop, as well as internal damage done to one or more organs. Proving physical abuse by a priest is easier to do than proving mental and emotional abuse because of the physical evidence captured by medical photographs.

    Emotional Distress

    Emotional distress does not create physical scars, although a child might experience physical ailments that are caused by acute fear and anxiety. However, emotional distress can be as negatively impactful as the pain caused by physical injuries. Emotional distress includes the development of depression that can turn pronounced enough to trigger thoughts of committing suicide. Proving emotional distress requires a child to visit a psychologist to determine the extent of the damage. If untreated, emotional scars can become a serious impediment to the development of personal and professional relationships.

  • What Should I Do if My Child Was Abused by a Priest?

    Whether you are a parent representing a child who is a victim of priest abuse or an adult who suffered from severe trauma inflicted by a priest during your childhood, you have to know what to do to get the justice you deserve.

    The first item on your to-do list involves contacting the appropriate law enforcement agency that can educate you on the options you have for filing a criminal complaint. Many states have removed the statute of limitations for filing a civil lawsuit and criminal complaint against an abusive member of the clergy. The remaining states have extended the amount of time an abused child has to take legal action against the Catholic Church. You must take legal action in the state where the abuse occurred.

    Next, contact the local child protection agency to schedule a meeting where you discuss the abuse endured by your child. If you are the parent of a child who currently endures abusive acts that are committed by a member of the clergy, meeting with a child from child protective services might initiate legal action. You also should consider contacting a support group, which helps victims of child abuse in general and priest abuse specifically to recover mentally and emotionally. A certified therapist might be able to implement a type of therapy that helps you or your child address the pain and shame felt for falling victim to abuse committed by a member of the clergy.

    The Catholic Church has established a victim assistance program that helps victims recover from mental and emotional abuse, as well as provides resources that help victims take the proper action. Before you contact a victim assistance coordinator, you should meet with an experienced child abuse attorney who specializes in litigating child abuse cases that involve priests.

  • How Do I Get Justice for Priest Abuse?

    Knowing how to answer the question, “What to do if my child was abused by a priest” is important on many levels. The most important reason for knowing how to address priest abuse is to seek justice against the Catholic Church. Working with one of the experienced child abuse lawyers at Morgan & Morgan can help you achieve three types of justice.

    Monetary Damages

    Suffering abuse committed by a member of the clergy can leave behind mental and emotional scars that last a lifetime. In the short term, a victim of priest abuse might have to deal with intense physical pain caused by one or more serious injuries. Monetary damages cover the costs that are associated with medical care. The physical consequences of being a rape victim can produce medical expenses that run into thousands of dollars. Victims of priest child abuse have the right to receive compensation for the cost of diagnostic tests and treatment programs.

    Monetary damages also cover the costs that are associated with mental and emotional trauma. Victims of priest abuse feel incredible shame and embarrassment for allowing a member of the clergy to verbally abuse them. Although there is not a price tag placed on pain and suffering, the lawyer you work with from Morgan & Morgan calculates pain and suffering by referring to a formula that accounts for the value of tangible economic damages.

    Because of the high-profile nature of priest abuse lawsuits and criminal cases, judges and juries have awarded a substantial amount of money for punitive damages. Another reason for the high value of awards for punitive damages stems from the significant wealth accumulated by the Catholic Church. Punitive damages penalize the Catholic Church for committing one or more acts of negligence, which frequently includes failing to establish a strict screening policy for the hiring of priests.

    Receiving Injunctive Relief

    Injunctive relief does not cover financial losses. Instead, it requires the defendant to implement specific measures to prevent future occurrences of the same type of action. For priest abuse cases, injunctive relief comes in many forms that include ordering the Catholic Church to establish stricter priest screening policies. A judge hearing a priest abuse case might require the Catholic Church to conduct extensive training programs that educate members of the clergy about what constitutes child abuse. Some priests come from the old school of meting out discipline that involves physical abuse.

    Although the Catholic Church reaches settlements out of court that are worth millions of dollars, it is less agreeable to providing injunctive relief for the abuse committed by priests. At Morgan & Morgan, we operate on the principle that getting priest child abuse to stop represents an important reason to take legal action against the Catholic Church.

    Participate in a Criminal Trial

    Filing a civil lawsuit is just one part of the criminal justice process for handling a priest abuse case. There also is a criminal trial that holds a priest directly accountable for committing one or more crimes. Although Morgan & Morgan does not litigate criminal cases, our personal injury attorneys work closely with prosecutors during a criminal trial. We provide prosecutors with the evidence we have gathered, as well as attend criminal trial proceedings to testify on behalf of our clients. Our cooperation with prosecutors is often the reason why a priest receives a criminal conviction for committing one or more acts of child abuse.

  • Be Proactive by Contacting Morgan & Morgan

    Confronting the abuse committed by a member of the clergy is not easy to do. However, by working with the team of child abuse attorneys at Morgan & Morgan, you get the legal and emotional support you need to get justice from the Catholic Church. Knowing what to do if your child was abused by a priest starts with scheduling a free case evaluation today with one of our child abuse lawyers.

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