For many people, church can be a source of spiritual reflection, education,
and comfort. Sadly, religious organizations are also commonly identified
in cases of sexual abuse, particularly of young children. The victims
of heinous, abusive acts can achieve a form of justice by filing a lawsuit
against the people who are responsible for their suffering.
At Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo & Plotkin LLP, our lawyers represent victims
in cases of sexual abuse in religious organizations. Contact us to discuss
your case with our legal team.
Complete our contact form or call (888) 260-0473 to schedule a free consultation.
What Constitutes Sexual Abuse?
Sexual abuse includes any instance of unwanted sexual advances, harassment,
or assault. In religious organization settings, cases commonly involve
priests and other church leaders forcing or coercing young church members
to engage in abusive acts.
A sexual abuse case may center on incidents such as:
- Sharing of sexual images or messages
Sexual Abuse: Criminal Charges vs. Civil Liability
Sexual abuse is a crime. A perpetrator can be charged with a crime and
sentenced to jail time or fines to punish them for committing abuse. Although
abusers can be held accountable in criminal court, civil lawsuits provide
victims with another outlet for justice.
The goal of sexual abuse civil lawsuits is to hold perpetrators accountable
and provide justice to victims in the form of financial compensation. In sexual
abuse cases, the resulting damages are primarily non-economic: Pain and
suffering, anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Who is Liable for Sexual Abuse in Religious Organizations?
In sexual abuse cases, the perpetrator is responsible for their actions
and can be held accountable in both criminal and civil court. However,
civil cases allow victims to hold responsible third parties accountable
as well. This may include church administration and church or school officials
who failed to do what they could to prevent abuse.
In a civil case, the following parties could be held liable for sexual
abuse in religious organizations:
- Church leaders
- Members of a church
- Church organizations and administration
- Security personnel
- Other officials
Sexual Abuse Civil Case Statute of Limitations
Sexual abuse claims are subject to a statute of limitations. This means
that a claim must be filed within a certain amount of time to be considered viable.
New York state law is sensitive to the plight of sexual abuse survivors.
A person who has been sexually assaulted may not be ready to bring their
case forward right away or may not understand the extent of the impact
of abuse until years later. Victims of childhood sexual abuse in a religious
organization can file a civil case until the age of 55 years old. A parent
or guardian can file a lawsuit on behalf of their child.
A motion in the state allows childhood sexual abuse victims to file a civil
case — regardless of the victim’s age or previous viability
of a case — between August 14, 2019 and August 13, 2020. During
this period, people who were abused as children in a religious organization
can pursue a case even if they are over the age of 55, whenever the abuse
occurred, and even if a previous case was denied because it is was not
viable in the existing statute of limitations.
Contact Us to Schedule a Free Consultation
The Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo & Plotkin LLP legal team is available to
discuss your case, and how we can help you. We can answer your questions,
provide legal guidance, and offer emotional support.
Send us a message or call (888) 260-0473 for a free consultation with our attorneys.