Morgan & Morgan attorneys are investigating allegations of child sexual abuse committed by clergy members in six Pennsylvania-based Roman Catholic dioceses across the state.
In August 2018 a grand jury in Pennsylvania released a report detailing 70 years of childhood sexual abuse — and the coverups — in the Scranton, Allentown, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, Erie, and Greensburg dioceses. The report accused more than 300 clergy members of abuse, and said there were at least 1,000 victims.
The grand jury’s report was based on internal diocese records, however, and there are said to be many more survivors of childhood sexual abuse in Pennsylvania than the report was able to identify.
Child sexual abuse is among the most heinous crimes a person can commit. It leaves victims with lifelong physical and psychological injuries. Previously, we helped clergy sex abuse survivors in the New York City area recover millions of dollars in compensation and hold their abusers and their abuser’s enablers accountable. Now, we want to help victims of the Catholic Church in Pennsylvania.
If you are a survivor of clergy sex abuse in Pennsylvania, contact our clergy sex abuse attorneys today for a free, no-obligation, and confidential case evaluation to learn more about your legal options.
Clergy Sex Abuse Statute Of Limitations in Pennsylvania
The grand jury’s report will likely lead to criminal charges against some of the clergy members identified in the report and civil suits against the Catholic Church by clergy sex abuse survivors. Morgan & Morgan only handles civil actions. There are strict deadlines for filing civil lawsuits against a diocese — time is of the essence in these cases.
In Pennsylvania, abuse survivors may bring criminal charges until they turn 50 years old. Civil actions on the other hand, may only be brought until a survivor turns 30 years old. Many survivors were molested decades ago, however, and the statute of limitations currently bars them from filing a lawsuit.
To allow survivors to pursue justice, the Pennsylvania legislature is considering a new law that would give survivors of clergy sex abuse a two-year window to come forward and file civil claims, even if the statute of limitations expired on their case. The law was proposed by Rep. Mark Rozzi, D-Berks, who has spoken of his rape as a 13-year-old boy by a Roman Catholic priest.
Additionally, the grand jury report recommended eliminating the statute of limitations for prosecutions of sexual abuse, because, in the report’s own words, “No piece of legislation can predict the point at which a victim of childhood sex abuse will find the strength to come forward.”
What Are The Lasting Effects of Childhood Sexual Abuse?
Childhood sexual abuse is traumatic, often leaving survivors with long-lasting physical and psychological issues. Depression has been found to be the most common long-term psychological symptom among survivors, according to a study on the long term effects of childhood sexual abuse. Other symptoms may include:
- Anxiety disorders
- Eating disorders
- Personality disorders
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Relationship and intimacy issues
- Somatic disorders
Childhood sexual abuse has also been found to cause lasting physical symptoms that may affect a survivor for the rest of their life. A meta-analysis of studies investigating the long-term physical health consequences of childhood sexual abuse found that survivors were more likely to have health problems in general, and more specifically with:
- Gastrointestinal health
- Gynecologic or reproductive health
- Cardiopulmonary symptoms
If you are a survivor and have had to deal with one or more of these symptoms, you may be able to recover compensation for past and future treatment.
How Do I Know If I’m Eligible To File A Lawsuit?
If you are a survivor of childhood sexual abuse committed by a member of the Catholic clergy in Pennsylvania, you may be able to file a lawsuit. Children are unable to consent to sexual activity, and any sexual contact with a minor is considered assault. It must be noted, however, that sexual abuse does not need to include physical contact.
By coming forward and holding your abuser and their enablers accountable, you can recover compensation related to the physical and psychological treatment you may have incurred as a result of your abuse. Additionally, filing a lawsuit shows there is no toleration for any kind of sexual abuse, and that abusers will be punished to the fullest extent of the law.
Morgan & Morgan Wants To Fight For You
If you are a survivor of childhood sexual abuse committed by a Roman Catholic member of clergy in Pennsylvania, we may be able to help you hold your abuser accountable and recover compensation for the physical and psychological issues your abuse may have caused. Previously, we helped survivors of clergy sex abuse in New York City, so we have the experience to sensitively and effectively handle your case.
Contact us today for free, no-obligation, and confidential case evaluation to learn more about how we may be able to help.