Abuse at the hands of church clergy or a priest is one of the most dehumanizing experiences a victim can be subjected to. It not only violates the trust people have in these institutions, it can wreak a lifetime of suffering that is difficult and sometimes impossible to recover from.
Those who enable or turn a blind eye to clergy and priest abuse can be held liable. Victims can receive the compensation they deserve to get the help they need. Our law firm accomplishes these goals with a dedicated and compassionate approach and a tenacity to fight for victims’ rights in court. Talk to Hale & Monico today to learn more about your legal options.
The Consequences Of Clergy And Priest Abuse
Sexual abuse inflicts serious injury on children and teenagers that can last well into adulthood. Perhaps the most sinister aspect of abuse is that it silences its victims. An overwhelming majority of abuse victims are too ashamed, embarrassed, or scared to come forward. And it doesn’t change when they get older; if anything, many victims try to hide the pain all the more and don’t seek the help they need.
Abusers are well aware that the children and teenagers they victimize will often say nothing. This allows their abuse to continue for years, while encouraging sexual predators to target others. It is rare that an abuser hurts only one child. When a victim steps forward, it’s not uncommon for many others to do so as well.
One of the most devastating consequences of clergy and priest sexual abuse is mental health problems. Children and teenagers often feel alone and experience severe loss of self-esteem and confidence. They no longer enjoy their childhood activities, withdraw from friends and family, and spiral into depression and anxiety. Many of them attempt to take their own life or turn to drugs and alcohol when they get older. They also experience an inability to have romantic relationships and may find it hard to hold down a job.
The criminal justice system is there to punish the abusers, but the civil justice system holds them financially accountable as well. More important, it also imposes liability on those who facilitate or allow the abuse to happen. That’s where the church clergy and priests come in. Entrusted with significant responsibility, these and other institutions betray victims and their families by failing to stop sexual predators.
Why Financial Compensation For Abuse Is So Important
News reports detailing verdicts against sexual abusers often focus on the dollar amounts. But it’s not about the money. It’s about allowing sexual abuse victims to access the help they need.
Victims will typically need therapy and counseling for years to come – and sometimes for the rest of their lives. If they’ve turned to substance abuse, they need to enter rehabilitation. And that’s just for the mental health consequences. Many victims also suffer physical injury, for instance, in the form of sexually transmitted diseases. They, therefore, need medical attention and ongoing treatment.
These and other services cost significant sums of money. While victims need help right now, they will continue to need it long after the abuse has ended. Our firm works hard to calculate a fair amount of compensation that will adequately cover the needs of those who have been abused.
Who May Be Held Liable?
A lawsuit can be filed against both individuals and institutions – those who actively abused, who facilitated the abuse, and who allowed it to happen. Often, a victim will want to bring the church into the lawsuit because it has significantly more financial means than an individual abuser.
Our firm goes after all sexual abusers, whoever and wherever they are. That could include:
- Pastors, priests, and bishops
- Church youth group leaders
A particularly insulting aspect of these abuse cases is that predators try to hind behind venerable institutions like churches. They believe they can use their positions to shield them from responsibility. Hale & Monico will pursue any abusers and make sure they are held liable for their horrific acts.
Warning Signs To Look For In Children
If you’re a parent or other responsible adult, you have to remember that children are often too afraid to report their abuse. Sometimes they are too young to even know they are victims. Be on the lookout for warning signs of sexual abuse in children such as:
- Unexplained changes in mood or personality
- Unusual emotional outbursts
- Regressive behaviors in older children such as bedwetting and thumb-sucking
- Poor academic performance
- Withdrawal from sports or other activities the child once loved
- Physical signs such as torn undergarments and unexplained bruising in the genital area
- Running away from home
- Self-harming behavior
Help For Adults Who Experienced Clergy and Priest Abuse
A statute of limitations is a deadline that someone has to file a civil lawsuit. In the past, relatively short statutes of limitations made it difficult for adults who were victimized as children to get the justice they deserve.
Fortunately, Illinois has expanded the statute of limitations for civil actions related to sexual abuse. It is now 20 years from the victim’s eighteenth birthday or when they discovered they were abused as a child.
If you’re an adult who was abused as a child, we want you to know you’re not alone. Many other victims have come forward and found healing by taking action against their abusers. Our compassionate team is here to get you the help and justice you deserve.
Contact A Chicago Clergy And Priest Abuse Attorney Today
Hale & Monico doesn’t tolerate sexual abuse. Whether you are the parent of a victim, or you were a victim yourself, let us fight for you. Give us a call today to begin working on your case.