If you were younger than 16 when you were the victim of clergy sex abuse, you still have time to file a civil lawsuit against the priest or against the diocese.
Many survivors of sexual abuse suffer in silence for decades before telling anyone about their ordeal. Confiding one’s most painful secret in a family member, friend, or therapist is often the first step in a long, arduous process of seeking justice. In most cases of childhood sexual abuse, the abuser is an adult whom the child trusts, which makes it easy for the abuser to manipulate the victim into staying silent. Often the abuser is an adult whom the adults in the community trust, which further increases the child’s fear that no one will believe them, or that people will retaliate against them, if they speak out. The number of Floridians who, as children, suffered abuse by Catholic priests is likely in the hundreds, if not higher. The law has been slow in creating strategies to enable adults who suffered sexual abuse as children to seek justice, but while criminal law contains plenty of loopholes that allow abusers to evade justice, it is not too late to file a civil lawsuit about clergy sex abuse. The first step is to contact a Boca Raton product liability lawyer.
Justice for Floridians Who Suffered Childhood Sexual Abuse by Priests
In 2018, the Florida Attorney General’s Office began an investigation into incidents of sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests. The investigation’s hotline received 267 tips about allegations of abuse, many of which occurred decades ago to victims who are now in their 40s or older. The investigators discovered that there was enough evidence to charge 97 priests with child sexual abuse in Florida. Of those 97, only 10 had faced criminal charges; 36 priests had died by 2018, and the other 51 had been removed from their church positions. Additionally, the Church had relocated 87 other priests to Florida after they had been accused of sex crimes in other states.
It is unlikely that the priests who have not faced criminal charges ever will. Last year, Gov. DeSantis enacted Donna’s Law, which eliminates the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse charges related to incidents that occurred on o after July 1, 2020, but it does not apply to earlier instances of abuse. Meanwhile, abuse survivors can still file lawsuits against the abuser; there is no statute of limitations on civil lawsuits related to child sex abuse if the victim was 15 years old or younger at the time of the abuse. If the victim was 16 or 17, the deadline for filing a civil lawsuit is the victim’s 25th birthday. If the alleged abuser is a priest, the plaintiff can file a lawsuit against the diocese where the priest served at the time of the alleged abuse, even if the priest is no longer part of the diocese.
Contact Ged Lawyers About Civil Lawsuits Related to Sexual Abuse
If you suffered sexual abuse by a priest, a mass torts lawyer can help you recover damages even if the priest never faced criminal charges. Contact Ged Lawyers in Boca Raton, Florida to discuss your case.