Morgan & Morgan attorneys are helping victims of child sexual abuse committed by clergy members in six Pennsylvania-based Roman Catholic dioceses recover compensation from funds established especially for victims of clergy sex abuse.
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, 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.
Six out of seven Pennsylvania diocese — Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Scranton, Erie, Greensburg, and Allentown — have established compensation funds for survivors of clergy sex abuse in the state. To find out if you’re eligible for compensation from one of the these funds, contact our clergy sex abuse attorneys today for a free, no-obligation, and confidential case evaluation.
Clergy Sex Abuse Statute Of Limitations in Pennsylvania
In Pennsylvania, survivors of child sex abuse 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 of clergy sex abuse in Pennsylvania were molested decades ago, however, and the statute of limitations currently bars them from filing a lawsuit.
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.”
The report accused more than 300 clergy members of abuse, and said there were at least 1,000 victims.
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.
It’s unclear if the legislature will pass that measure, but victims may still pursue compensation from the Catholic Church through independent compensation funds established by six Pennsylvania dioceses.
Compensation Is Available for Victims of Pennsylvania Clergy Sex Abuse
All victims of clergy sex abuse in the Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Scranton, Erie, Greensburg, and Allentown dioceses are eligible for compensation as long as they’ve never previously settled a claim with the Catholic Church.
The Pennsylvania compensation funds appear to be modeled after the New York compensation fund, according to a report in the Philadelphia Inquirer. The New York compensation fund is now closed, but while it was still accepting claims, victims of clergy sex abuse received a total of $200 million, or about $200,000 per victim.
At this time, there is no limit on the amount each Pennsylvania victim can receive, and the church has not capped the fund’s aggregate total. Every victim will have their claim evaluated by the claim administrators, and they will award compensation as they deem appropriate.
All compensation awards will be final, as neither the diocese nor the victim will be able to appeal. Victims, however, can pull out of the process at any time, even after they’ve seen their compensation award. Crucially, victims who accept compensation through the Independent Reconciliation and Reparations program waive their right to file a lawsuit in court.
No piece of legislation can predict the point at which a victim of childhood sex abuse will find the strength to come forward.
Victims who choose to forgo compensation from the fund will have to wait for the Pennsylvania Legislature to decide if it’s willing to allow victims of clergy sex abuse to file lawsuits, even though the statute of limitations has expired. For now, the debate over this issue is ongoing in the Pennsylvania Legislature .
The Independent Reconciliation and Reparations program will be administered by attorney Kenneth R. Feinberg and his business manager, Camille S. Biros. Previously, Feinberg was the special master for the 9/11 victims’ compensation fund and administered the compensation fund for victims of clergy sex abuse in New York, among other cases.
Feinberg told the Inquirer that he and Bilos would take the following into consideration when awarding compensation:
- Extent of harm
- Victims’ age
- Degree of the abuse
- Verifiable documentation of medical, counseling or prescription expenses
- Claims overall credibility
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.
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 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 navigate the compensation, 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.