If you or a loved one were the victims of sexual assault in Maryland, you may be wondering what legal options are available to you. Our experienced legal team can help.
Our injury lawyers fight against the perpetrators of clergy sexual abuse and the organizations that enable them because, in working with previous victims, we have seen how devastating the impact of sexual crimes can be.
A traumatizing experience such as this should not occur. It is crucial that those affected know they can get justice and closure. Contact us today to start the healing process.
According to the now-famous John Jay Report, approximately 4% of US priests serving in the second half of the 20th century were accused of sexual abuse. As the century came to a close, the number of cases declined sharply, particularly in the 80s, but the report offered no official explanation for it.
Although it can be deduced that the attention that the Catholic Church brought to the long history of sex abuse by priests influenced the behavior, it is still difficult to say how this effect was achieved. Additionally, it was believed that the filing of significant lawsuits against the church led the church to implement better procedures for cleaning up their ranks of sexual predators.
Nonetheless, more lawsuits have been filed, investigations conducted, and additional cases uncovered well into the 21st century.
The threat of sexual assault and exploitation against young children is widely believed to exist within several communities or organizations. Yet in religious associations, there are certain structures that may increase the risk of abuse.
For example, children are taught in many church groups to obey priests and other leaders without question. They can find it increasingly hard to speak out against their aggressors as a result of this hierarchy. Victims can also face difficulties due to fear of punishment and misbelief. They may even be too young to understand that they have been victimized.
The religious community tends to be remote from society as well. If abuse is ever discussed at all in an environment of isolation, it can be swept under the rug.
Since there is no federal law defining what constitutes sexual assault or abuse, each state has its own law governing these crimes. There are, however, some similarities across the board when it comes to the law surrounding these kinds of crimes.
Many states treat the term "sexual assault" as a separate offense. Rape, sexual abuse, and molestation all fall under the category of sexual assault. Consequently, each of these crimes is subject to its own punishment.
An individual who is forced, coerced, or threatened by another person into performing sexual acts can be considered a victim of assault. The victim does not have to be physically present for the act to occur. For example, if they are forced to watch a sexual act by the perpetrator, this is too may be considered assault.
Credible claims of sexual abuse of minors dating back to the 1980s began emerging, mostly in the case of boys. These allegations involved boys as young as 3 years old and as old as 14. Adults, many of whom have shared their traumatic experiences from their youth, have been coming forward and sharing their stories after many years.
In the 1990s, the public began to take notice of these claims of priest sexual abuse, which prompted numerous investigative reporting agencies to get involved. It wasn't long before examples of sexual abuse within the Catholic church began appearing across North America, some South American nations, and throughout Europe.
There was an alarming pattern of hesitancy to report allegations of sexual abuse within the church that was slowly revealed. There was extensive abuse around the world, and some claims even went as far back as half a century.
Many states have passed legislation that gives victims of priest sexual abuse a second chance to get justice. Through this new "window of opportunity", victims can now get the justice they deserve. A day in court has finally come for victims of abuse, even if it came later than anticipated.
Are you or a family member the victim of a Catholic priest or other religious leaders?
We encourage you to join the brave victims who have taken legal action against those who have allowed the abuse to occur. The law has changed recently, making it possible to win even if the abuse occurred decades ago. The system of systematic sexual abuse can only be ended if we hold perpetrators and their protectors accountable.
Get in touch with our experienced clergy abuse lawyers today for a completely free and confidential legal consultation.