Washington, D.C. Clergy Abuse Investigation
In October 2018, the Archdiocese of Washington released a list of Catholic priests credibly accused of sexual abuse in the diocese. Several days later, Washington, D.C.’s attorney general began an investigation to determine whether the archdiocese played a role in concealing child sex abuse allegations.
The investigation was also prompted by the results of a 2018 Pennsylvania grand jury report. The Pennsylvania grand jury report named two former archbishops of the Washington Archdiocese for their role in the clergy abuse scandal:
If you have any information about clergy abuse in the Archdiocese of Washington, you can submit an online complaint to the Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia.
Any information you provide may help the attorney general’s ongoing clergy abuse investigation.
Child Sexual Abuse Statutes Of Limitations | Washington, D.C.
Survivors of child sexual abuse must seek legal action before the state’s statute of limitations expires. Unfortunately, many survivors miss their opportunity for justice because of legal time limits. State-specific statutes may require victims to take legal action before they are ready or able to.
A statute of limitations (SOL) is a legal deadline. SOLs vary based on the jurisdiction, the crime and the intended legal action (criminal charges versus a civil claim).
To give survivors more time to seek justice, lawmakers in the District of Columbia passed the Sexual Abuse Statute of Limitations Amendment Act of 2018. This law amended civil and criminal statutes for sexual abuse and opened a two-year “look back” window.
D.C. Child Sexual Abuse Civil Statute
Under the District of Columbia’s most recent law, survivors of child sexual abuse must file a civil lawsuit before they reach 40 years of age.
Survivors may also file a civil claim within five years of discovering their abuse. This discovery rule may allow some survivors, who are older than 40, to seek justice if they discovered their abuse in late adulthood.
To determine if you have a viable legal case under the District of Columbia’s legal deadlines, get a free, confidential case review today.
You May Have Legal Rights
Speak With Our Lawyers About Washington, DC’s Statutes Today
D.C. Child Sexual Abuse Criminal Statute
Under the District of Columbia’s most recent law, there is no criminal statute of limitations for the majority of child sexual abuse felonies.
What Is the Difference Between a Criminal Case and Civil Lawsuit?
If the abuser (defendant) is found guilty in a criminal case, they 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, they 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.
D.C. Child Sexual Abuse “Look Back” Window
The Sexual Abuse Statute of Limitations Act of 2018, created a “look back” window to revive older cases of abuse. Those who are eligible to sue under the “look back” window can seek legal action against abusers, other responsible individuals and responsible institutions.
Several other states, including California, New Jersey, New York and North Carolina, have opened “look back” windows as well. However, the District of Columbia’s “look back” window has some limitations these other “look back” windows do not have.
Unlike the “look back” windows in other states, the District of Columbia’s window does not revive all past claims of abuse. In some instances, it revives claims that would be expired under the previous legal deadlines. Those who benefit from D.C.’s “look back” window include:
- Adults under the age of 40
- Adults of any age who discovered their abuse within the last five years.
The two-year window opened on May 3, 2019. The window will close on May 2, 2021.
Clergy Abuse Settlements In Washington, D.C.
1988 | Washington Archdiocese Pays Six-Figure Settlement
In 1988, the Washington Archdiocese paid a six-figure sum to settle a case of clergy sexual abuse. The plaintiff was the victim of Rev. Peter M. McCutcheon.
By the archdiocese’s request, the presiding judge signed an order prohibiting the “public disclosure of the plaintiff’s evidence or the settlement amount.”
2006 | Washington Archdiocese Pays $1.3 Million Settlement
In 2006, the Archdiocese of Washington paid $1.3 million to 16 survivors of priest abuse. The 16 sex abuse victims were abused by eight different priests in the archdiocese. The abuse occurred between 1962 and 1982.
List Of Accused Priests In Washington, D.C.
Below, we’ve compiled a list of clergy members and priests accused of abuse in Washington, D.C. This list may include priests, nuns, brothers and other clergy members facing abuse allegations. However, this list does not include archdiocesan staff, volunteers or congregation members accused of abuse.
Many abusive clergy members in the Catholic Church were moved between parishes and dioceses to conceal abuse. If you are unable to find your abuser’s name on this list, use our nationwide, searchable database to identify your abuser in another diocese. Our database of accused priests evolves as more cases of abuse come to light. If you are unable to find the name of your abuser within our database, you may still have legal rights.
Our law partners at The Meneo Law Group can help you determine your legal options. Submit a free case review today to learn more.
Survivors May Be Eligible For Compensation
Learn About Filing a Claim in Washington, DC
There Are 40 Accused Clergy Members From The Archdiocese Of Washington, DC:
- Bellwoar, John F.X.
- Benham, Francis A.
- Bucca, Salvatore F.
- Butler, John Fabian
- Callahan, Raymond
- Chleboski, Jr., Thomas C.
- Cote, Aaron Joseph
- Coyne, Joseph B.
- DeRea, Philip
- Devoe, John J./Br Brennan
- Dillard, Russell L.
- Dooley, R. Joseph
- Finan, James Aubrey
- Gallagher, Roger P.
- Gardiner, George
- Hartel, Edward T.
- Kenneally, Finbar
- Lavin, Paul E.
- Lyons, Thomas W.
- McCutcheon, Peter M.
- Miles, Matthew
- O'Brien, Arthur J.
- Orr, Garrett D.
- Petrella, Robert Joseph
- Powderly, James J.
- Pritchard, Edward B.
- Schaefer, Thomas S.
- Schapfel, Michael
- Scott, James A.
- Skelton, Jr., Joseph
- Slevin, Timothy
- Smith, Alphonsus M.
- Spoelker, Philip/Bro. Jude
- Stallings, George A., Jr.
- Stock, William McSherry
- Twiddy, Paul T.
- Vazquez-Ortega, Urbano
- Walsh, William J.
- Wert, William C.
- Zelaya, Miguel Umana
D.C. Priest Abuse Victim Resources
There are many resources for survivors of sexual violence in the District of Columbia. Below, we’ve compiled a list of organizations that provide help to sexual assault and abuse survivors in the Washington, D.C. area.
|Facility Name||Phone Number(s)|
|DC Rape Crisis Center (DCRCC)||Hotline: 202-333-7273 (RAPE)
|Safe Shores—The DC Children’s Advocacy Center||Hotline: 1-202-671-7233 (SAFE)
|The Women’s Center||Office: 202-293-4580, ext. 100|
If you were sexually assaulted in the Washington, D.C. area and need a forensic medical exam, call the Sexual Assault Crisis Response and Advocacy Program at 1-800-641-4028.
Washington, D.C. Priest Abuse FAQs
How Do I Report Sexual Abuse By A Priest In D.C.?
If you or a suspected victim is in immediate danger, call 911.
Report any suspected sexual abuse of a minor by calling the D.C. Child and Family Services Agency at 202-671-7233 (SAFE). You can also report child sexual abuse to the police by calling 911.
In the District of Columbia, anyone over the age of 18 is legally required to report suspected cases of sexual abuse against minors under the age of 16. D.C. law also specifies certain professions as mandated reporters.
For more general information about reporting sexual abuse or assault, visit our resource page here >
Reporting Abuse To The Washington Archdiocese
To report abuse to the archdiocese, survivors or witnesses can fill out a suspected child abuse claims form here.
Additionally, you can call Courtney Chase, the Executive Director of Child Protection & Safe Environment with any questions at 301-853-5302.
Should I File A Washington D.C. Clergy Abuse Lawsuit?
Currently, because of the two-year “look back” window, any survivor of sexual abuse under the age of 40 in Washington, D.C. can file a civil lawsuit. Any survivor over the age of 40 who discovered their abuse in the last five years can also file a claim during the “look back” window.
Once this window closes on May 2, 2021, older survivors of sexual abuse will no longer have these legal options available.
If you were abused by a clergy member in Washington, D.C. and are eligible to file a lawsuit under the “look back” window, you should speak with a clergy abuse attorney today. Our legal team can help you determine your options and file a claim before the deadline passes.
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Meneo Group managing partner: Ron Meneo
Ron Meneo is the managing partner of The Meneo Law Group. With more than 40 years of experience, he represents clients across the country on a variety of complex legal matters, including personal injury due to institutional sexual abuse, unsafe pharmaceutical drugs and other practice areas. He is a recipient of Martindale-Hubbell’s prestigious AV® Preeminent Rating. He has also served as an editor and contributor for several legal journals.
Archdiocese of Washington. (N.D.) How to Report.
Associated Press. (2006, December 16). Washington archdiocese pays $1.3 million settlement to 16 victims of clergy abuse. News on 6.
ChildUSA. (2020, August 3). Survivor Tool Kit [PDF].
ChildUSA. (N.D.) Washington DC Child Sex Abuse SOLs.
Duggan, P. (1988, October 26). Archdiocese Settles Child Sex Abuse Suit. The Washington Post.
Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia. (N.D.) Reporting Child Abuse: What to Know.
RAINN. (2020, March). Criminal Statutes of Limitations District of Columbia.
Sexual Abuse Statute of Limitations Amendment Act of 2018, D.C. Act 22-593 (District of Columbia 2019).
Sullivan, E. (2018, October 24). D.C. Attorney General Launches Civil Investigation Into Catholic Archdiocese. NPR.
Victim Legal Network of DC. (N.D.) Crisis Services.