Sexual Abuse Lawsuits Against the Catholic Church
The Catholic Church has dealt with sexual abuse allegations for decades. However, up until recently, most priest sexual abuse claims have been handled privately. Most dioceses prefer to settle abuse allegations outside of the courtroom and away from the media. These settlements frequently come with confidentiality clauses as well.
Supporters of such agreements argue this discretion protects victims. However, critics claim this secrecy has also been shown to protect predators in the priesthood. Quiet settlements have allowed numerous abusive priests to move on to different dioceses and new, unsuspecting victims.
Today, thousands of victims abused by priests have filed child sexual abuse lawsuits against Catholic dioceses across the country. This wave of clergy sex abuse lawsuits stems from two main sources:
- Time – Studies have shown that it can take decades for a victim of child sexual abuse to report the incident. Victims abused in their early childhood may wait until late adulthood to tell anyone about their experiences. Currently, the many survivors coming forward with new allegations of sexual abuse by priests were abused several decades ago.
- Legal Deadlines – Lawmakers in many states have recently expanded the legal deadlines around filing child sexual abuse claims. More victims who were abused decades ago are now able to take legal action against their abusers.