Sexual Abuse by Priests
In recent years, the history of assaults and pattern of abuse that has existed in the Catholic Church for years has become highly publicized. A scandal that was once cloaked in secrecy is now a well-known fact. As a result, many victims of these atrocities have felt empowered to share their stories and achieve justice against this powerful institution.
The Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo & Plotkin LLP legal team can represent you in sexual abuse cases against priests. Contact us today for a free and confidential consultation.
To schedule a free consultation with our sexual abuse attorneys in New York, complete our contact form or call (888) 260-0473.
A Culture of Abuse in the Catholic Church
The sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church did not begin with the Boston Globe’s Spotlight investigation of the Archdiocese of Boston in January 2002. However, that was the moment when the media and the general public began to recognize a pattern of sexual abuse of children and the Catholic Church’s inept and corrupt manner in which it handled abusive priests.
The cases involving Fr. Gilbert Gauthe and Fr. James Porter are indicative of the Catholic Church’s culture of abuse. Fr. Gilbert Gauthe served as a Catholic priest from 1972 until 1983 and admitted to molesting 37 children during his tenure as a Catholic priest. Fr. James Porter molested more than 100 children over a three decade reign of terror. It was until the 1990’s that his dark past became public. The Diocese of Fall River knew that he was sexually abusing children as early as 1960. In spite of Porter’s admission to the Pope that he was molesting children, the Pope never contacted the civil authorities. He was removed from the priesthood quietly and was allowed to continue molesting children because the Pope did not contact any law enforcement about what he knew about serious criminal behavior.
The Catholic Church’s response to the Gauthe and Porter cases was particularly crude and unsympathetic toward the survivors of sexual abuse. Anyone who came forward with allegations against a Catholic priest was considered an enemy of the Church and accused of sin because they had the audacity to speak publicly about a priest.
The Catholic Church’s response to these early warning signs of a systemic problem consisted of feigning ignorance and attacking the survivors. The bishops claimed that they relied on psychological experts for recommendations concerning the abusive priests and had no idea of the impact of childhood sexual abuse. They also did everything in their power to cover-up for the priests and save the Church from scandal. Their own files, which are kept meticulously, are evidence of this.
The state of New York has extended existing statute of limitations laws that govern the claim timeline of sexual abuse and assault cases. The Child Victims Act, which was passed by Governor Andrew Cuomo in late 2019, established new guidelines for childhood sexual abuse lawsuits in the state.
People who were sexually abused as children can now file lawsuits against abusers and other responsible parties until they are 55 years of age. Additionally, prosecutors can now charge perpetrators until an accuser reaches 28 years of age.
The Child Victims Act also includes a provision for a period of time in which all childhood sexual abuse and assault claims will be considered, regardless of when an incident occurred, an accuser’s current age, or the validity of their claim under previous statute of limitations laws. From August 14, 2019 to August 13, 2020, there will be no statute of limitations on childhood sexual abuse cases.
As the power and prestige of the Catholic Church dwindles, the truth of what has transpired is finally being exposed. The lawyers at Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo & Plotkin LLP have the experience and the knowledge to handle these cases. We have confronted and sued the powerful and the influential in the Catholic Church and in society. If you or a loved one have been sexually abused by a Catholic priest call us today for a free, confidential evaluation of your case.
Send us a message or call (888) 260-0473 if you are interested in speaking with our legal team.
Disclaimer: The Rheingold Law Firm does not intend to convey that the sex abuse crisis involves every Catholic priest, but rather a minority of priests.