A statute of limitations (SOL) is a legal deadline. SOLs are determined at the state level and vary based on the crime.
Clergy Abuse in Arizona
The Arizona Dioceses of Phoenix and Tucson released a report naming 44 Arizona priests accused of abuse. The Catholic dioceses, state lawmakers and victim advocacy groups are working together to help survivors of clergy abuse and prevent further abuse in the church.
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*Cases may be filed anonymously to protect the victim’s identity.
Arizona Sexual Assault Legislation
As systemic sexual abuse is identified in longstanding organizations like the Catholic Church and Boy Scouts of America, state lawmakers across the country are using legislation to tackle the issue. Arizona state lawmakers recently passed legislation to provide greater legal rights to survivors of child sexual abuse.
In May 2019, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey signed House Bill (HB) 2466 into law. The bill has two major provisions that benefit survivors of child sexual abuse:
- HB 2466 extends the statute of limitations to file civil claims of childhood sexual conduct or sexual contact.
- HB 2466 opens a one-year “look back” window in which any survivor of childhood sexual conduct or sexual contact may file a civil claim against his or her abuser. This includes survivors whose case would still be time-barred under the new legal deadline.
For both provisions, the bill’s text specifies civil lawsuits may be filed based on two actions:
- An abuser has sexual conduct or sexual contact with a minor.
- A mandatory reporter fails to report such conduct.
Childhood Sexual Conduct – “…intentionally or knowingly engaging in sexual intercourse or oral sexual contact with any person who is under 18 years of age.”
Childhood Sexual Contact – “…for the purpose of the extended statute of limitations, as any direct or indirect touching, fondling, or manipulating of any part of the genitals, anus, or female breast by any part of the body or by any object, or causing any person to engage in such contact.”
This definition excludes touching during caretaking tasks as well as “…interactions with a minor or vulnerable adult that an objective, reasonable person would recognize as normal and reasonable under the circumstances.”
Source: Arizona HB2466
Arizona Clergy Abuse Lawsuits
Catholic Dioceses across the United States — including the Dioceses of Arizona — are dealing with widespread clergy abuse allegations. Survivors of clergy abuse are coming forward with their stories and filing lawsuits against Catholic priests, clergy members and Catholic Dioceses.
Survivors of childhood sexual abuse must comply with the statute of limitations pertaining to the crime when seeking legal action.
The state of Arizona has two main statutes of limitations for survivors of sexual assault. There is one statute for bringing criminal charges and another statute for filing a civil lawsuit.
In Arizona, a survivor of childhood sexual assault has until his or her 30th birthday to file a civil lawsuit against his or her abuser. This is a new legal deadline that was enacted with the passage of HB 2466.
Prior to the passing of this new law, victims of child sex abuse could file a civil claim against their abuser until they reached 20 years of age. This original deadline gave these victims just two years after reaching adulthood to file a claim.
Unfortunately, for many victims of childhood sexual abuse, it can take decades to process the trauma, let alone seek legal action. This new legal deadline accounts for this and offers victims more time.
For the following felony offenses, there is no legal deadline to press criminal charges against a perpetrator in the state of Arizona:
- Sexual assault (when a person intentionally engages in intercourse or oral sexual contact without the other person’s consent)
- Sexual conduct with a minor under the age of 15
- Molestation of a minor under the age of 15
- Continuous sexual abuse of a minor under the age of 14
- Sexual exploitation of a minor
- Aggravated luring of a minor for sexual exploitation
For the following felony offenses, criminal charges must be filed within seven years:
- Sexual abuse (when a person intentionally engages in sexual contact with any person who is 15 years of age or older without the other person’s consent OR with any person under the age of 15 if the sexual contact involves only the female breast)
- Public sexual indecency
- Sexual conduct with minor over the age of 15
- Luring a minor for sexual exploitation
Learn more about criminal legal deadlines pertaining to sexual crimes in the state of Arizona here.
If the abuser (defendant) is found guilty in a criminal case, he or she may face probation or time in prison. The victim (plaintiff) would only receive money if the court requires the defendant to pay restitution to the plaintiff.
If the abuser (defendant) is found liable in a civil case, he or she must pay a monetary award to the victim (plaintiff). The amount of the award is determined by the jury. The award covers any damages caused by the abuse.
Arizona lawmakers designed a one-year “look back” window in which any survivor of childhood sexual assault can file a civil lawsuit.
Arizona’s new law — HB 2466 — gives survivors of childhood sexual assault more time to file a civil lawsuit by extending the legal deadline. But, there are many survivors who would still be time-barred from taking legal action under the new deadline.
The “look back” window is another provision in HB 2466 to support survivors of childhood sexual abuse. The “look back” window in Arizona closes December 31, 2020. If you or a loved one was abused by clergy in Arizona, you may have a legal claim. Speak with our legal team about your options today.
Several other states have also enacted similar windows. However, there are certain limitations to Arizona’s “look back” window:
- A plaintiff must prove the claim with “clear and convincing evidence.” This guideline was included to protect people from false claims of abuse.
- The court may not award punitive damages to the plaintiff.
In a civil lawsuit, punitive damages may be awarded to the plaintiff in addition to other compensation. Punitive damages financially punish the defendant and discourage similar behavior in the future.
Survivors filing a claim during this window can also name a person who is not the abuser in the suit. However, the survivor must prove the person “knew of or had actual notice of misconduct.” For example, this provision may apply in a case of clergy abuse if the abuse was reported to a clergy member and no action was taken to remedy the situation.
Arizona Dioceses Settlements
In the past couple of decades, the Dioceses of Tucson and Phoenix paid several major settlements to victims of child sex abuse:
- In 2002, the Tucson Diocese paid a $14 million settlement to 11 victims.
- In 2003, the Tucson Diocese paid a $1.8 million settlement to 5 victims.
- By 2004, the Phoenix Diocese paid $2.7 million for settlements and counseling services for victims.
The full extent of settlement payouts for either diocese is unknown as some settlement amounts were kept confidential.
In 2004, the Diocese of Tucson filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in order to maintain operations while compensating abuse victims.
Chapter 11 bankruptcy is used to protect businesses struggling financially. The process evaluates and reorganizes a business’ assets. In doing so, a business can pay off debts while maintaining enough capital to continue functioning properly.
The Tucson Diocese was the second diocese in the United States to declare bankruptcy due to a large number of abuse lawsuits. Through bankruptcy court, the diocese paid $22.2 million in settlements to abuse victims.
The Diocese of Phoenix contributed $200,000 to the Tucson Diocese settlement fund as well. Before 1969, some churches in the current Phoenix Diocese were part of the Tucson Diocese. Because of this, some abusive priests in Arizona are on disclosed lists for both dioceses.
List of Priests Accused of Abuse in Arizona
This list includes clergy members and priests accused of abuse in Arizona. The list does not include church staff, volunteers or congregation members accused of abuse. It also does not include clergy members from religious orders outside of the Catholic Church.
If you believe an abusive priest acted in a different state, use our nationwide database of accused priests.
You may still have a claim against an abusive priest in Arizona, even if his name does not appear on our list. This list is likely to change as new information is discovered.
If you or a loved one has been abused by a clergy member in Arizona, please contact one of our lawyers about your legal rights. We are here to help you seek justice.
There are 34 accused clergy members from the Diocese of Phoenix, AZ:
There are 33 accused clergy members from the Diocese of Tucson, AZ:
There are 26 accused clergy members from the Diocese of Gallup, NM:
We have included the Roman Catholic Diocese of Gallup on this page. The Gallup Diocese is headquartered in New Mexico. However, it encompasses parts of Northern Arizona and Northern New Mexico.
Arizona Priest Abuse Victim Resources
A victim of sexual abuse should not have to process and heal from the experience alone. There are resources all across the state of Arizona that offer help to victims. The table below lists some of the main victim resource centers in each Arizona county.
Arizona Sexual Violence Programs by County
|County||Facility Name||Phone Number(s)|
|Apache||Northern Arizona Care and Services After Assault (NACASA)||Hotline: 1-800-224-1315|
|Apache||Childhelp Mobile Advocacy Center of Northern Arizona||Office: 602-271-4500|
|Cochise||Southern Arizona Center Against Sexual Assault (SACASA)||Hotline: 520-327-7273|
|Coconino||Northern Arizona Care and Services After Assault (NACASA)||Hotline: 928-527-1900|
|Coconino||Victim Witness Services||Offices: 928-856-7676 | Flagstaff|
928-523-2225 | NAU
928-645-4124 | Page
|Coconino||Childhelp Mobile Advocacy Center of Northern Arizona||Office: 602-271-4500|
|Gila||Childhelp Mobile Advocacy Center of Northern Arizona||Office: 602-271-4500|
|Graham||Southern Arizona Center Against Sexual Assault (SACASA)||Hotline: 520-327-7273|
|Greenlee||Southern Arizona Center Against Sexual Assault (SACASA)||Hotline: 520-327-7273|
|La Paz||Southern Arizona Center Against Sexual Assault (SACASA)||Hotline: 520-327-7273|
|Maricopa||EMPACT Crisis Services||Hotline: 480-736-4949|
|Maricopa||Southwest Family Advocacy Center||Office: 623-333-7900|
|Mohave||H.A.V.E.N. Family Resource Center||Office: 928-505-3153|
|Navajo||Northern Arizona Care and Services After Assault (NACASA)||Hotline: 1-800-224-1315|
|Navajo||Childhelp Mobile Advocacy Center of Northern Arizona||Office: 602-271-4500|
|Pima||Southern Arizona Center Against Sexual Assault (SACASA)||Hotline: 520-327-7273|
|Pinal||Southern Arizona Center Against Sexual Assault (SACASA)||Hotline: 520-327-7273|
|Santa Cruz||Southern Arizona Center Against Sexual Assault (SACASA)||Hotline: 520-327-7273|
|Yavapai||Verde Valley Sanctuary||Hotline: 800-930-7233|
|Yavapai||Yavapai Family Advocacy Center||Office: 928-775-0669|
|Yuma||Southern Arizona Center Against Sexual Assault (SACASA)||Hotline: 520-327-7273|
Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence
The Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence (ACESDV) works with organizations that provide direct services to survivors of sexual and domestic violence.
To contact ACESDV, call the Sexual and Domestic Violence Services Helpline at 800-782-6400.
Arizona Clergy Abuse FAQs
How Do I Report Sexual Abuse By a Priest in Arizona?
If you are in immediate danger, call the police.
To report any sexual abuse:
Call your local law enforcement agency. Depending on the situation, you may also be advised to seek medical attention.
To report sexual abuse of a minor:
Call the Arizona Child Abuse Hotline at 1-888-SOS-CHILD (1-888-767-2445) to report the abuse.
To report sexual abuse to the Diocese of Phoenix:
To report a case of abuse perpetrated by a clergy member, church employee or volunteer, contact the Office of Child and Youth Protection at 602-354-2396.
Learn more information about reporting abuse to the Phoenix Diocese here.
To report sexual abuse to the Diocese of Tucson:
You can report abuse to the Diocese of Tucson by contacting one of the following departments in the diocese.
Victim Assistance Program
Office of Child, Adolescent and Adult Protection
To report sexual abuse to the Diocese of Gallup (NM):
Refer to the contact information below to report abuse committed by a priest, deacon or other staff member of the diocese.
Elizabeth Terrill | Victims Assistance Coordinator
Email Address: [email protected]
Do I Have to Currently Live in Arizona to File an Arizona Clergy Abuse Lawsuit?
No. A plaintiff does not need to live in Arizona to file a clergy abuse lawsuit in the state. However, in order to file a lawsuit in the state, there must be some connection between the state of Arizona and the abuse.
Examples of a notable legal connection include the following:
- The abuse took place in Arizona.
- The responsible institution is headquartered in Arizona.
Identifying this connection can dictate how a legal team handles each specific case.
Who Can File on Behalf of a Victim?
There are several instances when a person or entity may legally act on a victim’s behalf:
- A victim’s estate may file a legal claim on behalf of the victim.
- Any person with legal authority may file a legal claim on behalf of the victim. This includes a parent, guardian or conservator.
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Arizona Coalition to End Sexual & Domestic Violence (N.D.) Home.
Arizona Department of Child Safety. (N.D.) Suspect Abuse? Report It. Now. Retrieved March 10, 2020.
A.S.K. (N.D.) Get An Advocate. Retrieved March 12, 2020.
Associated Press. (2019, May 27). Ducey signs bill increasing amount of time childhood sex assault victims can sue alleged attackers. ABC 15 Arizona.
Diocese of Gallup. (N.D.) About Us.
Diocese of Gallup. (N.D.) Our Promise to Protect.
Diocese of Phoenix. (2015, October 20). Make a Report. Retrieved March 10, 2020.
Diocese of Tucson. (N.D.) Report Abuse. Retrieved March 19, 2020.
LawServer. (2018). Arizona Laws 13-1417. Continuous sexual abuse of a child; classification. Retrieved March 13, 2020.
Leingang, R., Randazzo, R. (2019, May 27). Arizona budget: House and Senate approve bill to help childhood sex abuse survivors. AZ Central.
Maricopa County. (N.D.) Sexual Offenses In Arizona Information for Parents and Teens [PDF].
NCR Staff. (2018, May 31). Catholic dioceses and orders that filed for bankruptcy and other major settlements. National Catholic Register.
RAINN. (Updated December 2017). Criminal Statutes of Limitations Arizona. Retrieved March 10, 2020.
Rotstein, A.H., Rushlo, M. (2004, February 27). Report: 44 Ariz. priests named in abuse allegations. The Arizona Daily Sun.
Victims’ rights, HB 2466, Chapter 259 (Arizona 2019).
(2006, January 10). Diocese of Phoenix to assist Diocese of Tucson in settlement. Tucson.com.